Capital Investment Advisors

#10 – Serving up Pickleball Championships with Owen Mitchell

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States. LeBron James, Michael B. Jordan, Tom Brady, and Drake have all made sizable ownership investments in pickleball teams. One of them needs to get today’s guest onto the roster. Owen Mitchell won first place in the 2023 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh. He’s also won the Florida state championship for his age group in four of the past five years.

For him, winning is a goal, but not the goal. The sport has helped him find a purpose, and he thinks that’s one of the keys to happiness in retirement. We also talked about his devotion to faith, his love for family, and the marriage seminars he and his wife lead throughout the year.

Owen is a man of action. He’s hiked the Inca Trail in Peru, gone to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back twice, hiked Mt. Whitney, and so much more.

Owen Mitchell thinks about his life as a story; as you’ll hear, he’s writing a real page-turner.

Read The Full Transcript From This Episode

(click below to expand and read the full interview)

  • Owen Mitchell [00:00:00]:
    I’m big on using the term we’ve got to make our life a good story. So I know my preface and introduction and my 1st 40 chapters are probably written. So what am I going to do in chapter 41? You know, I’m. I want that to be a good chapter in the story. That’s how we got to view it around. We got to make our life a good story.Ryan Doolittle [00:00:22]:
    Do you ever wonder who you’ll be and what you’ll do at your career is over? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear stories from people who figured it out who are thriving in retirement? I’m Ryan Doolittle. After working with the retire sooner team for years and researching and writing about how they structure their lifestyles, I know there’s more to be learned. So I’m going straight to the source and taking you with me. My mission with the Happiest Retirees podcast is to inspire 1 million families to find happiness in retirement. I want to learn how to live an exceptional life from people who do it every day. Let’s get started. Okay. Owen Mitchell, thank you so much for joining us on the Happiest Retirees podcast.Owen Mitchell [00:01:05]:
    Thank you.Ryan Doolittle [00:01:06]:
    So we were just speaking a little bit before we started here, but I didn’t want to get into all the good stuff before we were recording. So tell me a little bit about yourself. You’re 66 years old, right?

    Owen Mitchell [00:01:18]:
    Yes, sir.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:01:19]:
    Okay. We found you because we were looking for people who loved pickleball. And to say you love pickleball is kind of an understatement. So tell me some of your pickleball. Bona fide.

    Owen Mitchell [00:01:31]:
    So I’ve been playing seven years. I do have a tennis background. I play college tennis at a smaller NAIA school, but with a lot of success. Our team had a very good run while I was playing. Really? I’m in central Florida, where actually, pickleball is very popular now. But when I first started playing, there was maybe only three courts in the area. And I was driving by one day, saw it and showed up, and really on day one, day two, fell in love with it. The very first tournament I played in, I lost eleven 00:11 one.

    Owen Mitchell [00:02:06]:
    And I went back with my partner and I said, hey, we don’t know how to play Pickleball. I said, nobody in our area has ever played. So all these nuances, if you watch it on tv now, you can just pick up very quickly what’s important. And we had to come back and learn how to play. The upside of that is I learned how to play, and some of those people that beat me 1111, one I now can compete with and beat them. So it took a while to kind of reach that level. But as far as accolades, I’ve won a few state championships in Florida. And probably biggest thing, I came in first at Pittsburgh this year at the senior game, national championship.

    Owen Mitchell [00:02:45]:
    So that was back in and that’s.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:02:48]:
    It was in the top category, too, I believe.

    Owen Mitchell [00:02:51]:
    Right. So pickleball is like a lot of things where you have a rating. So you start out with really a 30 rating, kind of lowest you can go and it goes up to 4.50 for my age group. So I competed in that age group category and there were thousands of people there playing pickleball in that national championship from every age 50 and above divided by five years. So I’m in a 65 to 69 year old category right now.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:03:26]:
    So I think it’s safe to say you would beat those people who beat you when you first started playing, right.

    Owen Mitchell [00:03:34]:
    Definitely play them closer. These guys are good, too. They’re some of the same guys I’m still competing against. I live very close to an area called the villages. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the villages. It’s famous even nationwide, so they probably have more pickleball courts per capita than any other place in the nation. So I usually will go over there once or twice a month. And there’s 25 guys that are extremely equal to my ability.

    Owen Mitchell [00:04:01]:
    So it’s always great play. Kind of great way to test your skill by going over to the villages.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:04:06]:
    Wow. The villages are sort of like an Olympic village of pickleball talent.

    Owen Mitchell [00:04:13]:
    Yes, sir.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:04:15]:
    I’m imagining all the all stars are just there, just sharpening their skills. I’m going to beat you this year type of thing.

    Owen Mitchell [00:04:23]:
    Yes, sir.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:04:27]:
    On this podcast, we really tried to hammer home the idea of core pursuits because our research shows that the happiest Retirees have about three and a half core pursuits, which we define as those hobbies that kind of get you out of bed in the morning, not just something you sort of like, something you really like. Is pickleball your number one core pursuit, you’d say?

    Owen Mitchell [00:04:50]:
    I would say it’s in the top three or four. I try to do things daily. I care for my wife’s parents. They’re 91 and 93. They live two doors down from us. That’s important to me. My wife and I do marriage ministry, so I usually do something daily of reaching out to people, checking on them, setting up events. I go to the gym four to six times a week.

    Owen Mitchell [00:05:16]:
    My wife is also involved in that when you become Medicare, and that’s actually important topic for this thing, all those things become free for you. The silver sneaker. Silver and fit. I can go to orange theory for free eight times a month. I can go to my gym every day for free. So all those things are included in that. 66 and a half, 65 when you become eligible for Medicare. A lot of people don’t know that, but they can start going to these places that they had to pay a fee for.

    Owen Mitchell [00:05:46]:
    So that’s part of my daily routine. I would say if the weather is good, I would play pickleball seven days a week, but normally starting at 630 in the morning and done by 09:00 in the morning. So really I’ve kind of gotten my sweat. Good feelings about life kind of starts the day and then I can do other things, trying to be productive. I’m part of a church group in this area, too, so I try to do things with that group also on a daily, weekly basis.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:06:18]:
    So when you reach Medicare age, or maybe it’s when you sign up for Medicare, that’s when you’re able to go to orange theory and various gyms for free. Is that what you said?

    Owen Mitchell [00:06:28]:
    Yes. 65 years old. When you get that card, you can take it to these institutions and they’ll have a list of different things, qualify for different things. But I had no trouble right off the bat taking my card in. The guy said, yes, I think it’s actually a benefit to those places. I was paying a certain fee per month. But the guy where I went to, I’ll just say this, he said, every time you check in, I get $5. And I’m thinking, shoot, I’m going 20 times a month, let’s say.

    Owen Mitchell [00:07:00]:
    So he’s getting a lot more money from me, but it’s a benefit probably against your health insurance because you’re staying healthy, right? I’m not going to be a drag to my insurance because I’m staying healthy because they’ve given me this benefit they’re.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:17]:
    Paying on the front end.

    Owen Mitchell [00:07:18]:
    Great thing. Yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:20]:
    Okay. That saves them money on the back end. That makes sense. Okay.

    Owen Mitchell [00:07:23]:
    But it’s great for you because you.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:25]:
    Love working out anyway, right?

    Owen Mitchell [00:07:26]:
    I mean, I was already going. I’d already been basically doing that since I was 56 years old. I wasn’t a big weightlifting guy early in life, more into aerobic running, tennis. I know you’re a tennis player also. You can appreciate that, which means you’ll be a good pickleball player on day one. Also because of your good. I read your article. I know you hit the tennis ball.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:07:49]:
    Oh, thank you. Yeah, I do love tennis and I’ve been meaning to play pickleball. I have a one year old son, and so I don’t have a whole lot of free time yet, but it’s on my list.

    Owen Mitchell [00:08:02]:
    So interesting. Yesterday I had my twelve year old and my 14 year old grandsons out play, and now my 14 year old, he can really be a dominant force against most of the older people that I’m playing with. He’s not ready for the highest level yet, but already at 14, their hand speed. God gave us this great brain, like, I call it, quick twitch. And you see the ball coming and every day you think, how am I going to get better at this? But your brain, just like you’re getting things you don’t normally get because your quick twitch just improves. I say that’s such a benefit for my age category because you would think at 66, I would start falling off the mountain, right? Getting worse. It hasn’t happened yet. I’ve actually still continued to get better from when I started at 59.

    Owen Mitchell [00:08:56]:
    Just because I think the God given quick twitch that we have, at some point I’ll call you and say, hey, I ain’t got it anymore, right? I’m starting to get worse, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:09]:
    That’s amazing, because I do feel like we all get smarter. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but as we get older, maybe our body was faster before. So you see in sports, maybe the veteran on the team in basketball or something is they see the court better even though they’re not as fast.

    Owen Mitchell [00:09:29]:
    Good point.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:29]:
    Yeah. So maybe some of that’s playing into pickleball, but I know what you mean, too. Sometimes my brain would click and I would do something like throw a pass, and I’d be like, I didn’t even know I could do.

    Owen Mitchell [00:09:40]:
    Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:09:44]:
    Owen, you live in Eustace. You have two kids, two adult children, and two you live. Do they all live close to you? The two kids and the grandkids, obviously.

    Owen Mitchell [00:09:59]:
    So, yes. And then, no. I’m in a pretty fortunate spot. My daughter purchased my mother’s home. My mother died in 2014, and I kept the house for a while. Then I sold it to my daughter and my son in law. So they’re 2 miles away. So I’ve kind of ensured that they’re going to be close to me.

    Owen Mitchell [00:10:20]:
    I see my daughter and grandchildren almost daily. My son in law, they’re able to come over for thanksgiving this week.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:26]:
    Oh, great.

    Owen Mitchell [00:10:26]:
    My son and daughter in law, and they’ve both been married 15 years. They got married in the same year, 2008, so they’re working on their 15th year. They live in north shore of Hawaii.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:10:39]:
    Oh, wow.

    Owen Mitchell [00:10:40]:
    So good and bad. Obviously we are able to go for 15 to 20 days each year to Hawaii. They’ve been there. We’ll go for our third trip next year. Since they’ve been there, they work at a christian camp. My daughter is the manager there. My son in law, I mean, my son is the property manager. Great jobs, but we’ll swim and snorkel and play pickleball every day.

    Owen Mitchell [00:11:08]:
    I mean, it’s some of the best areas because they’ve been there long enough now to know all the local knowledge. So free stay. We always try to get churches. We even make deals with churches to try to speak. So we’ve gotten to speak both times we’ve been to Hawaii. We’ve spoken at a church trying to line that up. We’re going next September. Already have it on our calendar.

    Owen Mitchell [00:11:30]:
    And usually we’ll go visit one other know, we’ll go to Maui or we’ll go to Kauai while we’re there for three or four days. So I guess I’m blessed. But I’d love to see my son. I love him a lot. He’s a phenomenal guy. I’d love to see him more than once a year. We do have a family cruise planned in January. They’re going to fly in, so we’ll do eight days together.

    Owen Mitchell [00:11:54]:
    Going out of Port Canaveral. Oh, that’s something we’re looking forward to. Yeah. So our family, we get along, we’re close, everybody, no tension. Really fortunate in my. I speak with a lot of people that don’t have good family situations and always say, you just got to try to work it out. Right. At this age, you want to try to have that kindness and compassion toward each other.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:12:18]:
    Yeah. Well, I think that’s amazing that you live really close to one of your kids, and then it sounds like you make a great effort to see your son. Even though you live so far away, you still get some quality time. Is he on Oahu? Is that short?

    Owen Mitchell [00:12:37]:
    Yes, sir. The main island is right there. Yes, sir. Okay, so I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I really have an amazing wife. I know I should have started the podcast by saying that it’s okay. Yeah. So really, all the things I’m accomplishing through God and Jesus was my blessing to get her as my wife, she makes things so convenient and kind on a daily basis. So one of the things I know we’ve talked about this retirement.

    Owen Mitchell [00:13:06]:
    She was able to stay at home during our entire marriage and, oh, wow, I say manage the home. Both our children were three sport participants and starters in most cases. So we had to go to a lot of events, and she did a phenomenal job of managing that and also doing our ministry. Our ministry. A lot of times a man is kind of a key speaker if you’re doing a ministry. But in our case, we both 50 50, so she’s a very gifted speaker. And all our stuff, when we go to a seminar is 6 hours. She speaks half the time.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:13:40]:
    Oh, that’s incredible. It’s a team effort.

    Owen Mitchell [00:13:43]:
    Team effort makes it fun. I call it our rhythms. You have to have a rhythm. If you’re going to spend that much time with somebody, you have to have fine things, kind of like that you’re going to do together. But you also have to have a little bit of time to do things without each other too, and just have keywords that help you get along.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:01]:
    Is one of you the straight man and the other one is the comic? How do you do it?

    Owen Mitchell [00:14:06]:
    I think we both learned that being. What’s the word? Being facetious does not work in our relationship. Or making fun does not make. I see couples that do that. We’re very kind hearted toward each other and not making fun of each other. Type that works in our relationship.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:26]:
    Yeah, I would say it seems to be working. Okay, well, that’s fantastic. So you both do the marriage seminars together, right. That’s a lot of the engagement. How did you even get into that? How does someone.

    Owen Mitchell [00:14:41]:
    Good question. So in 98, we attended a conference at that same place that we’re just talking about, the Rosen center next to the civic center.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:14:52]:

    Owen Mitchell [00:14:53]:
    And we heard a guy speak about teaching classes locally at your church. And I said, hey, that kind of would fit in something we’re trying to do, and we can do it together. So we started doing that. We led a class. It’s an eight week class, and I’ll try to make it quick. But over the next 20 years, we led that class 23 more times. So it’s something that we continue to do locally at our church. So then we had a company that saw that found us kind of that we were doing leading those classes and said, we’d like for you to train couples nationwide to lead those classes.

    Owen Mitchell [00:15:29]:
    So we started about ten times a year, we would go for Friday, Saturday, Sunday. It’s a 15 hours seminar. And we would, let’s say, fly to Texas, fly to California, fly to North Carolina, fly to Nashville, and we would lead that 15 hours weekend with, let’s say 15 couples there from various churches. And then they would go back and teach that class at their church. So part of that we started getting our confidence, like, hey, we’re starting to learn, we’re starting to do. And we kept being asked this question, do you have anything shorter? This is like eight weeks. And this facilitator training is long. Basically, I feel like God through the Holy Spirit just gave me knowledge of, put these different pieces together, come up with an interactive seminar.

    Owen Mitchell [00:16:20]:
    So nine years ago I had a church in Fort Myers, Florida, call me. And the guy said, hey, I came to your training. Do you have anything shorter? We want you to have you guys in and do something shorter. I just said to him, yeah, we got something. So I hung up the phone, I went to my wife and I said, hey, we’re going to Fort Myers in two months and do the seminar. She said, we don’t have anything. I said, we got it. We got it.

    Owen Mitchell [00:16:42]:
    I just believe we got it. So from that point, we developed it. We put the PowerPoint to it, came up with 6 hours of information, led it. 32 couples came. Two of them were preachers from another church. And this is how I felt like I got confirmation. Those two preachers came up after the seminar and said, we’ve never been to anything like this. You didn’t judge us, you showed compassion, you kept it fun.

    Owen Mitchell [00:17:07]:
    I didn’t feel like you gave us 84 things to do. You kept it simplistic. And so now we’ve led that just, it started the ball rolling. So in the past nine years now we’ve led that seminar about 93 times. Wow. We had 19 events this year. Some of those training, some of those, I call it reconnect weekend is the title of our seminar already. For next year, we have 18 events, one being in LA.

    Owen Mitchell [00:17:35]:
    So we come in LA.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:37]:
    That’s the one you mentioned. That’s in near Pasadena.

    Owen Mitchell [00:17:40]:
    We were in Pasadena this past year, but we’re coming to I’m not sure where. I realize LA is a big area, but when I find out, right. I’ll be specific where the location is. But we are in May or first week of June coming to LA this year.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:17:55]:
    Oh, fantastic.

    Owen Mitchell [00:17:56]:
    2024. Yeah. So that’s a little nutshell of how we got started.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:00]:
    Well, I love how you say you keep it simple because I could imagine people going to this or any conference and if it’s too much. They might get overwhelmed and think, well, I’ll never be able to pull this off. But you keep it in a way where they think, oh, I can do that. Because life is kind of a one step at a time business.

    Owen Mitchell [00:18:21]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:22]:

    Owen Mitchell [00:18:23]:
    We learn from each other, so we never speak for more than about 15 to 18 minutes at a time before we do some type of activity, ask the group a question, watch a video. So you go to conferences sometime, and someone’s just preaching or speaking to you for six straight hours, and you take notes. It’s not that type of seminar. It’s an interactive seminar.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:46]:
    And that pays off better for everyone, I would imagine.

    Owen Mitchell [00:18:50]:
    Hope so. That’s what our hope is anyway.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:18:52]:
    Yeah. Okay, so let’s take a look a little bit at your life, your primary career. I think you worked 25 years as a store manager for Scotty’s, which is kind of like a Lowe’s, or correct me if that’s not exactly right.

    Owen Mitchell [00:19:09]:
    Okay. It’s exactly what it was like. Had a great position of store manager, sometimes managing core than one store, but most of the time, one store with maybe 80 to 90 employees, but had opportunity. I think this is important for retirees to hear or people working that I chose not to go to higher positions. Offered district manager, offered regional manager type thing, turned all those down because the money at the store manager level was fair, but it enabled me to go to every one of my children’s activities. So if they had a volleyball game at 230 in the afternoon, I had been at the store. The last store I was at, I was at 17 years. So I had people that I had trained that if I needed to leave.

    Owen Mitchell [00:20:01]:
    So some manager jobs are all encompassing, where you’re just killing yourself. But this had become a very manageable thing. So I took less money to basically have more time with family, but it still ended up being like, I call it, a good money making job. I don’t think you knew this because we hadn’t talked about it, but I was able to pay my house off at age 44. So I took a 15 year mortgage when I was 31 years old. 31. And I paid extra each month, and I’m still living in the same house. I paid it off in a little over 13 years with a job that I had.

    Owen Mitchell [00:20:47]:
    So at age 44, once you don’t have a house payment, your life changes drastically, because all of a sudden, you have this big lump sum of money that you’ve been putting in that you can save 401 or however you want to use it, but things become much easier. So we’ve never moved out of our, with 34 years in the same house, so that’s been a real blessing.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:21:12]:
    Yeah, well, that’s incredible too. So in your career, you actively turned down certain promotions that would have paid even more, and for good reason, because you got to spend time, more time with your family. But even with that money situation, you were still able to pay off your mortgage early. So you must really be an effective budgeter. Or tell me more about how you were able to do that.

    Owen Mitchell [00:21:41]:
    So again, I married a good woman. She’s frugal also. We make a good team as far as you can go back to even simplistic things. My wife started cutting our hair earlier. She cut all three of us. If you start adding that up over 30 years, the amount of money that you save, just not going out to eat quite as often as the world does. Right. Just making a decision to eat healthier, stay at home.

    Owen Mitchell [00:22:08]:
    I would say Dave Ramsay is a good guy. I don’t know if you like me mentioning him on your show. Dave Ramsey method is very tried and true. If you’re willing to spend cash for vehicles, not have depreciation or at least not have big depreciation. So we’ve always found good values, like in vehicles. I haven’t had a car payment in like, 26 years, so that changes everything too. When you’re not having to have a car payment, your insurance payments are lower when you’re driving a reused vehicle. You just have to be careful, like everybody, people are going to have stories.

    Owen Mitchell [00:22:46]:
    I bought this vehicle and it was a lemon. I understand that God has blessed me to find I was always careful in what I shopped for and really never had any trouble, big trouble with any of the used vehicles that I’m driving. I’m driving a 2010 van now, and I love it. It’s doing me well.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:23:03]:
    Nowadays you can buy a used car that’s sometimes it’s certified by the dealership or cars. They run well, better than they used to. Okay, so this is incredible to me. I can’t believe to pay off your mortgage that early is very exceptional and inspiring. And it makes sense that the less bills you have, the further your paycheck goes, essentially right now, because you were able to do that. And I don’t know if you’re doing this during those primary working years or if it came later, but you’re now able to travel extensively, multiple trips abroad with your current financial situation.

    Owen Mitchell [00:23:49]:
    So I don’t know what exact year it was in. I know the company I work with, I won a trip one time and it was to Paris, I’m going to say it was in the mid ninety s and we had not been out of the country at that point. We went to Paris ten days, got back and said, oh my goodness, that was great. And it wasn’t that hard. And from that point on, we figured out traveling and off season. I used points quite a bit. I was able to generate points from my job and different things, so some of my flights were free. We started going to Europe every year, and then we got on this kick, brother, where we started going to the national parks.

    Owen Mitchell [00:24:33]:
    That became a really big deal. So we’ve been to Yellowstone maybe five times, Yosemite three or four times, Grand Canyon three or four times. All the main ones. I’d say the top 15 or 20 we’ve been to at least once and multiple times off season travel. And it was much less expensive back 20 years ago. There’s been so many pictures and advertisements now people have learned about the national parks, so they’re more crowded now than they used to be. But that was a big focal point for us. I got into extreme hiking, so I hiked the John Muir trail when I was 50 years old.

    Owen Mitchell [00:25:14]:
    That’s 220 miles with a group of three other people over quite a bit.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:25:19]:
    13 days, right?

    Owen Mitchell [00:25:21]:
    To do it. 13 days, 220 miles. Yeah. The last six days, my group turned back. My group got out on day seven. I had to hike the last six days by myself. That’s another podcast, probably. But that trip alone, I kept a good diary on that, day by day, just some of those type of adventures.

    Owen Mitchell [00:25:46]:
    Once you’ve done them once or twice, you realize they’re very achievable. Just have to plan for it, set aside money, and we try to do now two big events a year. We did a Panama canal cruise in January of this year, but we just got back from a transatlantic cruise out of Barcelona on the symphony of the seas. And I’ll plug it because I think it’s the best ship in the world. There were so many things to do. Yeah. So just had a great time. Great time with that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:21]:
    That was the name of the ship.

    Owen Mitchell [00:26:22]:
    Or that symphony of the Seas. It’s a Royal Caribbean ship, symphony of the seas.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:26:28]:
    And where all did it go? It started in Barcelona.

    Owen Mitchell [00:26:32]:
    It had like three stops, but we’ve been to all those stops before. The ship has so many unbelievable things to do. You could live on the ship and be happy. It was more of a, I call it relaxation. Spend time, work out, sleep, read all those things that you really have decompressed some vacations. You need a vacation after the vacation is over with. Right. You work so hard.

    Owen Mitchell [00:27:00]:
    This is a vacation. I was truly redeemed at the end of the vacation in a better place.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:09]:
    And did the ship have a pickleball court on it?

    Owen Mitchell [00:27:12]:
    Three played every day. We played every day. Three courts enclosed. These ships now are really prepared for the onslaught. I would say there was 35 to 50 people that played during the cruise, so we had to kind of have alternate twelve on, twelve off every ten minutes. But it was great. Worked out good. And I found people from across the United States that were very close to my own ability.

    Owen Mitchell [00:27:39]:
    So we were able to get our group of four and play and have, I call it fun matches. Well, yeah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:46]:
    I was going to say you’re at such a high level, but you were still able to find competition.

    Owen Mitchell [00:27:51]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:27:52]:

    Owen Mitchell [00:27:52]:
    There’s younger guys that are good, and I found two or three guys, and we would just meet up every day and say, okay, we’re playing three or four games together. It was kind of our fix. That’s great.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:28:04]:
    Okay. I want to kind of just highlight some of the other trips. A lot of these are hiking, but they’re just so incredible, I want to make sure I mention them. So you’ve hiked the Inca trail in Peru. You’ve twice hiked to the bottom and back of the Grand Canyon. You’ve hiked Mount Whitney, which is, I think, is it the second highest peak in the United States.

    Owen Mitchell [00:28:27]:
    So it’s the tallest in the 40 eigth. So you go to Denali to get higher in Alaska, but in the 40 eigth states it’s the tallest peak.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:28:36]:
    Okay. It’s 14,505ft, which I imagine.

    Owen Mitchell [00:28:41]:
    Yes, sir.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:28:42]:
    You feel when you’re hiking.

    Owen Mitchell [00:28:45]:
    I always want to do it now. Okay.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:28:47]:
    Yeah. Okay. So you’ve done the half dome in Yosemite twice, which is a famous hike. You did the buckskin gulch, which is the longest lot canyon in the world. It’s in Utah. What is a slot canyon?

    Owen Mitchell [00:29:01]:
    It’s basically a canyon that has walls so high that once you’re in the slot, you cannot climb out of the slot. So it’s some of the best hiking in the world if people are willing to do it. There’s a lot of smaller slots. Most of them are in Utah or northern Arizona. You’re not that far from there. Being in California, that’s something you should. I can give you the names of several places to go that are not dangerous, but you’re going to say, this is one of the best things I’ve ever done hiking that. Okay.

    Owen Mitchell [00:29:32]:
    Very close to that buckskin gulch, actually. Same sort of trailhead. There’s that place called the wave. The wave is the nicest place in my mind that I’ve ever been to. Natural place. You have to win a lottery to go there. It’s right outside of Knab, Utah.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:29:50]:

    Owen Mitchell [00:29:50]:
    So we won the lottery three times. So I’ve taken all my family members there. Yeah. It’s just an incredible. You’d have to google it. The wave, Knab, Utah. To see some of the amazing pictures from there.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:03]:
    Is that a slot canyon, the wave?

    Owen Mitchell [00:30:06]:
    It’s not a slot canyon. It’s just an unusual rock formation. Many different rock formations in that area. It’s not just one place, but the most famous place you go. They basically take ten people a day to go there.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:23]:

    Owen Mitchell [00:30:23]:
    They monitor it carefully. If you’re in there, you can get arrested if you did not win the lottery.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:28]:
    Okay. I’ll have to check that out because that sounds like something to not miss.

    Owen Mitchell [00:30:32]:
    Yeah. It’s an item that you just got to apply for it. You got to apply for it. I just applied for it until I won, and once I won, I was able to apply for it again and win twice more.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:42]:
    Do you think you’ll go again?

    Owen Mitchell [00:30:44]:
    I don’t know. That’s a good question.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:46]:
    Leave it open.

    Owen Mitchell [00:30:46]:
    Yeah. I almost feel like I know so much now that I could sneak in there illegally, but that would probably not be a good thing to do either.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:30:54]:
    Okay, well, we’ll keep that open. And finally to round it out. I mean, you may have done more, but this is all I know about you did Mount St. Helens, which I don’t know if it was when I was a kid or before, but it was an active volcano.

    Owen Mitchell [00:31:09]:
    Still is still very. It was a very snowy day, so we had to really be. It’s pretty careful hike, but achievable in one day. You start out early, but I’m not sure why I even put that on my top thing. But it was a great day, and there’s a lot of other things in that mountain St. Helen area to do. There’s other hikes, too, that are really terrific. Once you’re in that, it’s still, when you get to the top, it’s still calving.

    Owen Mitchell [00:31:37]:
    I mean, it’s still definitely very active. Smoke coming up out of it. You get right over the edge and look down into it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:44]:
    You can look down into the volcano?

    Owen Mitchell [00:31:46]:
    Yes, absolutely.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:50]:
    Is ash still kind of flying around.

    Owen Mitchell [00:31:53]:
    Smoke. Smoke, for sure. Yeah. So it’s definitely still rumbling. If you would.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:31:59]:
    It’s not dangerous. It’s okay to do that.

    Owen Mitchell [00:32:01]:
    We weren’t the only ones that day, and I had read a whole bunch of articles before I went. So is it dangerous? It’s probably decently. Anything you do like that is somewhat dangerous, but you do.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:13]:
    I love. I love your attitude. Okay.

    Owen Mitchell [00:32:16]:
    I mean, it’s like hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. There’s a lot of signs that say, do not attempt to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in one day. And I’ve done know gone down twice. So, yes, it’s dangerous, but it’s achievable.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:30]:
    Dangerous for someone who’s not a pickleball champion. Maybe that’s how we can look at it.

    Owen Mitchell [00:32:37]:
    All those things are in my rearview mirror, brother. All those hard hikes I did in my late 40s, early 50s. So I’m probably not going to be doing too many of those as a retirees.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:47]:

    Owen Mitchell [00:32:48]:
    Yeah, those were hardcore.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:32:50]:
    Owen, are you a proponent of goal setting?

    Owen Mitchell [00:32:53]:
    I was mentored, I don’t know, maybe 26, 27 years ago. A guy gave me an idea of trying to categorize my goals, and I started doing it then, and I put them under four categories. Spiritual goals, family goals, athletic goals, or activity, however you want to phrase that, and finally, travel goals. So each December, I’ll sit down with my wife, and I’ll just kind of like, let’s talk this through. Where are places that we want to go next year that we might can go? I said, let’s put at least three or four of them down. I’ll look at, like, in spiritual goals, maybe particular scripture that I want to read or a column of thing, or a class that I want to take under athletic, how often do I want to go to the gym? And I’ll just list those goals in those categories. And I try to post that on the refrigerator so I can look, hey, what are my goals? How can I follow through with those goals? So that kind of. Kind of keeps me in check without being too overwhelming that I have too many goals.

    Owen Mitchell [00:33:55]:
    I try to give goals that I actually can’t achieve.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:33:59]:
    Oh, that’s amazing. And I imagine if the goals are on the fridge, it makes it easier to not open the fridge and eat, like, junk food.

    Owen Mitchell [00:34:07]:
    It’s a good point. Back to balance, right? You got to have a balance.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:34:13]:
    Okay, tell me, do you consider yourself a happy retiree? It seems that you do. But can you tell me why and how you got there?

    Owen Mitchell [00:34:24]:
    First of all, for sure, my day to day is I wouldn’t trade places with anybody with my day to day life. I think key is just balance. I’m a believer in Jesus. I think that’s my priority. I have a good wife, and I know a lot of men aren’t going to be able to say that, so that’s a plus. I have things that I have in place now that no day. I feel like I didn’t get anything done, and I’ll go back on that question to make a statement. When I first started staying home, so I stopped my secular job at age 61.

    Owen Mitchell [00:35:00]:
    Scotty’s my wife, Scott. No, I was a property manager after Scotty. So I worked 14 years after the 25 years. So I stopped that. And my wife said it, maybe in the first month, she said, I’m not sure either you or me are ready for you to be home full time. Right. I had to make that decision. Like, I didn’t want to go back to work, but I also knew that I had to find a balance with her.

    Owen Mitchell [00:35:27]:
    So then I went to her and I said, hey, I’m going to start doing this. We’re going to start doing this together. And it’s now, once we found our routines in that third or fourth month, we haven’t looked back. So now I’m in whatever my fifth year and our day to day again. I say you have to have productive routines and not become a slug. Right. You got to do things. You got to find ways to help your community, help other people.

    Owen Mitchell [00:35:55]:
    Go rake leaves, whatever it might be, you find a purpose. A lot of times I’ll just call somebody and say, hey, if you know somebody’s doing something, somebody’s moving, somebody’s doing that needs help, call me, I’m available. And they do. And just kind of finding a purpose, right?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:36:12]:
    Yeah. That’s one thing we’ve found with our research, is a lot of retirees or people who are going to retire think, well, happiness will just be because I don’t have to go to work. But that doesn’t really tend to turn out the way they think it’s going to. You need a purpose and a reason. I mean, a retirement is just a change. It doesn’t mean you stop doing anything.

    Owen Mitchell [00:36:36]:
    Yes. So I hate to use the word like win, because that’s not quite the right word, but I say you should try to plan your day and your week, to have victories, to do things where you did core right. You put the ball in play, you got to first base. Maybe you didn’t hit the home run ball. I think so many men especially, and I’m not trying to be too gender specific, but if a guy’s been in charge at his job and all of a sudden he’s not in charge of anything, there’s a big hole. Right. So you have to find some ways to fill that gap by having some ways to have victory. And whether it’s through pickleball or whether it’s through being involved with serving at the hospital, I’m just giving an example, doing something with your church, you have to find, because I know everybody’s not going to play pickleball, but they’ve got to find something to fill those gaps to have some of those victories, if you would, some of those wins or some of those even putting the ball in play.

    Owen Mitchell [00:37:39]:
    I’m big on using the term we’ve got to make our life a good story. So I know my preface and introduction and my 1st 40 chapters are probably written. So what am I going to do in chapter 41? I’m kind of really toward the end of the book. Right. I could get hit by a truck tomorrow. Right. Or get sick. But I want that last chapter, whenever that is.

    Owen Mitchell [00:38:04]:
    I want that to be a good chapter in the story. So that’s how we got to view it. We got to make our life a good story.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:38:11]:
    I love that. And each day you’re looking for that day’s victory, that’s how you succeed.

    Owen Mitchell [00:38:18]:

    Ryan Doolittle [00:38:18]:
    And that just automatically gives you a purpose. Yeah.

    Owen Mitchell [00:38:22]:
    Yes, sir.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:38:22]:
    What does a perfect day look like for you today?

    Owen Mitchell [00:38:26]:
    Yeah. Wow.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:38:27]:
    That’s a great answer today.

    Owen Mitchell [00:38:29]:
    So had good night’s sleep already. Saw one of my grandchildren play pickleball, saw my wife coming back. Hanging out with you. Meeting someone this afternoon, hanging out with you, I mean, hanging out with you, that’s a part of my perfect day. Wow.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:38:45]:
    I’m honored.

    Owen Mitchell [00:38:46]:
    Thank you. Yeah, I’m meeting someone this afternoon at two. Go see my mother and father in law for about an hour and a half. This afternoon between 430 and six, my wife and I will pick a particular show that we’re watching each evening. We’ll watch that this evening together. Have food. Yeah. Get in bed at 09:00 so yeah, today is an ideal day.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:39:13]:
    I love that. And I did want to touch a little bit on, I forgot to elaborate earlier. So you’re taking care of, and I don’t know how intense or not intense it is, but you’re taking care of your. Did you say your mother and father in law or did I.

    Owen Mitchell [00:39:28]:
    Yes. My wife’s parents, they’re 91 and 93, so we moved them next door to us maybe almost three years ago. Okay, so privilege. So privilege. I got to take care of my mother before she died in 2014, and I’ve also watched, been able to care for some other family members that have passed away, and now that’s such a privilege. Plus, I want to be a good example, because I know I’m going to need my children to hopefully do the same thing for me one day. So I want to make sure that I got a gold star in that area, so they’ll know that’s important. Yeah.

    Owen Mitchell [00:40:06]:
    Right. I got to set the bar high for that.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:40:12]:
    I like the way you look at it as a privilege because I know that can be challenging. It’s not always rainbows and ice cream cones, so there are some days absolutely not hard.

    Owen Mitchell [00:40:23]:
    Right. We’re fortunate to have my wife’s siblings that are also involved, and we trade off time, and they’ll fly in, drive in to help in that process. They’ve done a fantastic job. I say it’s a family unification thing because we get along with them. They know we’re here living. We’re the only ones that are close to them from a physical standpoint, but they all have their role. They’re all in different places, but they’ll come in and help. But, yeah, all sides of our family, my brother’s side, my wife’s side, we all get along really well.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:40:59]:
    That is truly a blessing, and I imagine that makes it much more manageable, even on those.

    Owen Mitchell [00:41:05]:
    Yes, sir.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:41:07]:
    Okay, so when you retired, did you have a specific plan, and if so, did you stick to it, or did it change as time went on?

    Owen Mitchell [00:41:18]:
    That’s a good question. I haven’t been asked that. I think I went to my wife and said, I believe our marriage ministry, even though it’s very minimalistic, can support us without drawing any of our 401, and we’ve been able to do that so far. I was going to start actually drawing my retirement at 66 and a half, and I’m right at that spot almost right now that I could do that, but decided to wait until I’m 70. There is an amazing percentage, and it’s all sorts of. You can get all sorts of different ideas. And I know you’ve heard, like, hey, you should take it at 58, or you should wait till 70, and everything in between. Right.

    Owen Mitchell [00:41:56]:
    The way we viewed it, it wouldn’t change our life if we started drawing our retirement right now. In other words, we wouldn’t be doing anything else that we wouldn’t already be doing as far as travel and what we’re trying to accomplish. But the benefit, percentage wise, for her in the long run will be much better if I take my retirement at 70. Okay, so that factored in into how. So I’m still not, quote, really retired in the sense of drawing my retirement. But I’ve been living the life, to be honest with you, of a retiree since 61 years old, as far as just not having a day to day responsibility other than my marriage weekends. And I am a pickleball instructor also. So I do make some money.

    Owen Mitchell [00:42:44]:
    I sell paddles, I give lessons. So that would probably contribute several thousand dollars a year to our income. Yeah. I’m sponsored by a company with their paddles, a company called engage. E-N-G-A-G-E. They give me paddles. I’m able to sell them at a discount. They’re close by.

    Owen Mitchell [00:43:05]:
    Their office is close by. A lot of the top pros in the world play also with the same paddle I’m playing with.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:43:11]:
    So you don’t build the paddles, you endorse them or do you actually build them?

    Owen Mitchell [00:43:17]:
    I’m an endorser. They don’t really care about me too much. I mean, they’re happy they sponsored me, but they care about the young players, that they’re paying them actually money to play their paddle. It’s a big deal if you watch any event, every commercial is about buy my paddle type thing. I know we may be getting off track with that. No.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:43:38]:
    Fascinating. I’m fascinated, too, that you’re not even drawing from your retirement savings and you’re still able to live well. We always want happy retirees to have multiple streams of income, especially as they stop their primary working years. But it sounds like you do have that. So you’re drawing from your endorsement giving lessons, I guess, maybe regular non retirement savings or how are you able to pull it off?

    Owen Mitchell [00:44:10]:
    So our payments are so minimalistic, right? No house payment, no car payment, that the money that we make from our ministry and pickleball is able to take care of us. We didn’t know our marriage ministry would succeed in that first year. We were only doing like eight to twelve events. What we did is expand it up to 15 to 18 events to make a little bit more money. So we added some events for that. But so far, I feel like, I say, none of that is me. I mean, I feel like God has opened those doors for us to be able to walk through. So none of it’s on our own ability.

    Owen Mitchell [00:44:55]:
    So that’s when we decided I was definitely going to take my retirement at 66 and a half until things are so smooth right now that we just don’t want to. We’re just going to wait.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:45:04]:
    It’s interesting you mentioned Dave Ramsay. He just kind of started a firestorm because he was saying people should be able to draw, I think he said, 8% of their retirement savings. Here you are drawing zero, and you’re still living the life.

    Owen Mitchell [00:45:22]:
    I have a decent 401. It’s not the greatest of all time, but it’s quite a bit of money. And I really can’t even have a vision in my mind of when I would say, I need to get some of that. Yeah, I mean, it’s there, and it’s still growing. Obviously, it’s invested like anybody else would be. It’s growing, but I don’t know when I’ll use it right now because our income based on my retirement at 70 will actually be greater than what I’m making right now through our ministry and pickleball, because I’ll have a pretty decent lump sum money that will start at 70 because it’s the highest you can get, right?

    Ryan Doolittle [00:46:03]:

    Owen Mitchell [00:46:05]:
    Part of the reason, and I think people, retirees need to hear this. Part of the reason I waited till 70. Let’s say something happens to me at 72. I get cancer or whatever. I get hit by a truck. Whatever happens, my wife’s portion becomes my portion. So she gets this larger amount, larger than it would be at 66 and a half. Does that make sense? Her portion will be more so if something did happen to me, it helps her out in the long run.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:46:35]:
    Well, that’s very responsible of you. And selfless, which I’m not surprised from the other things you’ve talked about. I’m really glad you’re able to do that. This is such a cool example. I haven’t interviewed someone who has had this specific situation before. So I want our happy retirees, or aspiring happy retirees to hear what you’re saying and consider that as they go forward. Would you say that in retirement? And I think I know the answer, but I’m going to ask anyway. In retirement, have you felt more limitations or less?

    Owen Mitchell [00:47:11]:
    Define limitations.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:47:13]:
    Well, things. When you retired, do you have less options in life or more options in life?

    Owen Mitchell [00:47:21]:
    I would say that’s going to change as far as eventually my mother and father in law will pass away. Right. So I’ll have more freedom once my obligation is not there for them. But I would say I feel like I have less limitations than I’ve ever had, in the sense of, I can do what I want to do on a daily basis. I have to make good choices to not be lazy. Right. I want to do things that are good. I want to be healthy.

    Owen Mitchell [00:47:49]:
    I want to be active. I want to try to help other people, and those are the choices that we’ve got to make. So I think my limitations are less now. When you have a job, you have to go in and you’re responsible for that person you’re working for. And now I have freedom. I can do what I want to do. I just have to make good choices and that freedom.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:48:12]:
    And that reminds me, I meant to ask earlier, especially the job you had at Scotty’s. You had a mantra that was sort of not being married to your job, working really hard, but actually working smarter than harder, if that makes sense. You wanted to do a really good job and then leave and focus on what was more important to you, your family, and your life. Do you have any advice for other people? I mean, maybe you could explain how you did that and what your mindset was.

    Owen Mitchell [00:48:46]:
    Good question. I think I wanted to inspire the team of people that were working with me. So I think we had a team of five other assistant managers below me, and we always said in our meetings, we want to support each other. We want to work our 45 hours work week. But we knew people that were working 60 and 70 hours that had the same jobs that we had. I asked our guys, I said, how many of you all want to work 70 hours a week? Nobody raises their hand, right? No one’s going to volunteer for that. And I said, do we want to work 45? And everybody raises their hand. I said, okay, if we don’t want to work long, then when we’re here, we can’t mess around.

    Owen Mitchell [00:49:29]:
    Right? We got to make that a productive 45. I won’t bother you when it’s your time off, and you don’t bother me when it’s in my time off. We’re basically watching each other’s back. And it was very effective because they knew that if we didn’t do it in the time that we had to do it, we had to work longer. Right. So everybody’s kind of inspired to get it done while they’re there. They have a good work ethic. And obviously, we kind of lost our work ethic as a country.

    Owen Mitchell [00:49:55]:
    That’s another subject, probably three or four years ago that we’re trying to get that back. Right. To me, if you just show up right now every day, you’re probably going to be president of the company after a while because you just showed up.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:50:09]:
    Showing up is a big part, but I see what you’re saying.

    Owen Mitchell [00:50:13]:
    Yeah, right.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:50:16]:
    You remind me a little of, I was just watching one of those mission impossible movies, the Tom Cruise movies, and he’s climbing up some, maybe it’s a slot, I don’t know. He’s climbing up some rock and it’s his vacation, and a helicopter shows up and gives him the message of his job he’s supposed to do. But I’m just thinking it reminds me of you saying, like, I’m not at work. This is what I’m doing. This is my real life right here, my view. Yeah. So maybe you’re the Tom Cruise of the retirement world is what I’m saying.

    Owen Mitchell [00:50:50]:
    That’s funny. I think we got to try to find things that keep us adventure some. Right. Big thing. You got to look for the things that I did in my forty s and fifty s. I can’t physically do some of those things now, but there’s still things I can achieve.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:51:06]:
    Oh, absolutely. Now, you’re a Wiley veteran.

    Owen Mitchell [00:51:10]:
    Yes, sir.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:51:11]:
    Well, do you have any advice as we wrap up here? Do you have any advice for other folks that are trying to be as happy as you are?

    Owen Mitchell [00:51:19]:
    I would say try to find good mentors, read, study, like these books that even your company puts out. The success things, the five things, the ten things. If people actually are disciplined, that’s a key word. If you’re disciplined enough to follow some of those things, you’re going to achieve success of freedom a lot quicker than it would. If you don’t do those things. All the commercials tell us, go get this, go buy this, go do this. And if we do that, we’re just going to be piled up in debt. And you’ve got to work to not have debt, to have freedom to do the things that you want to do.

    Owen Mitchell [00:51:57]:
    That phrase, live like nobody else. If you live like nobody else, right. You do the things where you can live and do what you want to do, but it requires some discipline.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:52:08]:
    Well, I can say you truly seem to live like no one else. So I take my hat off. I’m not wearing a hat, but if I were, I would take it off to you because, bravo.

    Owen Mitchell [00:52:18]:
    I appreciate you reaching out to me. It’s been fun. So let me know if I can do anything else with you, man. Appreciate it.

    Ryan Doolittle [00:52:24]:
    Absolutely. Owen, thank you so much for being on the Happiest Retirees podcast. It’s been really great to talk to you.

    Owen Mitchell [00:52:31]:
    God bless you.

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