Each day that we live and work and struggle and enjoy is experienced one time only. Whatever you do today cannot be changed tomorrow and time that you waste or spend uselessly cannot be recouped. As for your preparation for retirement, the clock is ticking. You better work every minute you have to save as much money as you can so you will be sure to have enough to guarantee a happy retired life. Or should you?
The reality is that many preparing to retire look only at financial security and how many possessions they can accumulate to make them happy in retirement, regardless of the sacrifices required to achieve this. Ernie Zelinski in his book ”How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free” says “Although most people don’t know what exactly they want from life, they are absolutely sure that money in large amounts will provide it for them. They fool themselves, however, about how much happier they would be with much more money.” What is it worth in you and your family’s blood, sweat and tears to generate an additional $X before you call it quits and exit the working world?
Happiness cannot be bought. If it could, the movie stars and millionaires and dotcom billionaires would be joyfully enjoying their amassed fortunes with not a care in the world. But then we would not read daily about their troubles, misfortunes, failed loves, various addictions, and general poor state of affairs. All that money but so few genuinely happy people.
Chasing money for the sake of money – or more money – is not the way to go. Thomas Merton said “Why do we waste our time doing things which, if we only stopped to think about them, are just the opposite of what we are made for?” What matters and give us true meaning and purpose in our life cannot be purchased from a wallet. Can you put a price tag on a smile and a giggle from a grandchild? What is the going rate for the support offered by a friend at a time when you are at your wits end? And what about those wonders of nature – a sunset over the mountains, the full moon on a cold, clear evening, the hypnotic sound of the ocean waves breaking on the shoreline, a dove’s deep throat coo – pretty much priceless.
Your time and effort is better spent chasing what matters – those things that add value to your day and bring a smile when remembered at a later time, enhancing the quality of your retired life. In an earlier blog, I talked about living in the present moment, here and now, where you can experience and savor all that life has to offer. Some additional worthy pursuits beyond the almighty dollar include:
- Exercise to keep yourself in shape mentally and physically to give you the independence in senior life that is so important to maintaining self worth.
- Find your passion and chase that – write a book, learn a musical instrument, cycle around Australia, become fluent in a foreign language, you get the idea…
- Get in touch with that good friend you have neglected due to your busy life and get them back into your life. Good friends are few and far between and a good relationship is always worthy of chasing.
- Turn off the TV and do something else – ANYTHING else.
- Sit still in a quiet place, alone, and get to know yourself a bit better. Let your thoughts come and go, breath evenly, dig a little into the person you are and will be for the rest of your life. Do you like that person?
- Do that something that you have always wanted to do since you were a kid but never had the time or the guts. Guess what – you have the time now! Do you have the guts as well?
When it is all said and done and you look back over your life and ask yourself what you regret not having done, what are the chances that making more money will top the list? You are retired and free to do what you want when you want regardless of what the rest of the world thinks. What a great time indeed to chase what really matters to you personally and maybe – if you are lucky – even catch it.
Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.