Updated: Jan 30, 2021
How waiting until retirement will see you waste your life.
Very recently my sister passed on a quote my father said right before dying. We had both had turns careering for our father during his tenure of sickness and unfortunately heard many heart wrenching things from him over that time.
This one in particular rang pretty true to me, very close to home having heard it now after he has passed. I think perhaps, I had heard It before, however emotional through the context she had told me. It was far more emotional to hear him speak of this nature, as a man of yester year. Tough, hard as nails, rugged cold and showed love in his own weird ways. He was not one to openly discuss emotions. I can tell you that 3 times in my life I heard him say he was "proud of me" or show a tear... touchy subject.
But essentially what he said to the docs was along the lines of this. “ Doc I worked my ass off, I worked 6 days a week, 10-12 hrs a day for 40 plus years. I worked to provide for my family and give them everything I could, hoping I would get to retire and spend my time with my family and possible grand children. I would get to hang out with them and watch them grow up and live their lives. Now I wont get that chance.”
I think we all know someone like my dad, am I right?
It does not take much to know a man like this or think of someone with this mantra or mentality. I can’t tell you just on 2 hands how many people come to mind that live like this. To me that was hard to hear, because I know personally how hard he worked; periods of my childhood I resented the fact he wasn’t around or able to make my football matches thanks to being so 'busy'.
In hindsight of course, I recognise he was showing love in the only way he knew how, providing for us like his father never could. But the story here is not in my relationship with my father, more so the wisdom in those words. How many of us live day to day, thinking the hum drum life will be worth it when we retire. When everything is over and done with, the suffering the back breaking labour for a job we resent or despise or perhaps the career we just committed to because it was 'safe'. The old "it will all pay off come the age of retirement" mantra. It makes sense, you work hard your entire life, to get to the point of relaxing.
Taking a Lesson from the Dead
Lets take a lesson from the dead and ask, "what if?" What if we don’t make it? What if we spent our entire life tirelessly justifying pain, exhaustion, misery simply because that’s the way and it will be worth it come time to cash in that ever more difficult superannuation cheque.
What if along the way, all those moments, those special things you thought you'd catch up on were gone and there was no way to get them back? What does it take for us to wake up and be in the now, to be present as well as driven? I have been someone spending a lot of my time and life in the pursuit of greater development and growth. Yet it wasn’t until I really contemplated with the concept of life and the destination we all inevitably face, that sparked a catalyst. That it cant just be only in retirement that we feel excitement or passion or joy or happiness.
To live without a Goal
Dr. Jordan Peterson says, - without a goal; positive emotion can't be felt in the brain, chemically we have to aim for something to neurologically enjoy it and feel this euphoria. But, the goal itself is not what provides this feeling or emotion, it’s the path along the way we have to experience to really feel that sense of pleasure.
What happens if when you get to retirement, it's finally come time to jet off into the sunset spend the last of your days relaxing; only to realise that wasn’t what you were missing? That in actual fact, it's not what will give you fulfilment in your life. By then it is far to late and the chance to find purpose is all but gone.
We spend so much time living an existence we don’t enjoy, wishing times away as if it will come back or that the trade off will be some arbitrary sense of satisfaction when we arrive. Without any assurance that’s the case.
Plan the Pursuit
As someone whos lived their life and many of the last years in pursuit of perfection, success, goals, education and development; if I didn’t enjoy the things I was doing and learnt to live within the moment as it comes, as well as building these successful days to work on achieving the over-all goal, there's no way I would sustain the course! It isn't logical to wait until time is up to appreciate the time we have had.
IF there is a plan or a goal or a dream you possess; that you wish to reach or strive for, then it is your responsibility to endeavor in obtaining it. Whether successful or not, the freedom and fulfilment of chasing something you want for your self, far surpasses the feeling of contentment and safety of doing what every one else is doing.
Zig Ziglar once said “ The wealthiest place on the planet is the graveyard, because in the graveyard we will find inventions that we were never ever exposed to, ideas, dreams that never became a reality, hopes and aspirations that were never acted upon.”
Tomorrow comes and goes and Later doesn't Exist
Think of all the things we could have had if people acted in the now, not later? We spend so much time waiting for things to happen or to present it self to us, that we lose the time we could have been spending on what we want to do or have. I love my father he was one of the biggest influences in my life, but I have learnt as much from him in death, as I have in life.
Do not put off things you can enjoy now, thinking time is guaranteed later. If I were to die now, I would do so with complete contempt for my time here so far. I have learnt to appreciate existence for what it is, and enjoy not only the highs but also the lows of what I do. As that encompasses what life is.
Now I don’t mean to say go run a muck and party up with every booze and drug you can find, I mean enjoy the process as it comes. It’s a hard skill to master, especially someone like me. Bodybuilders live for delayed gratification, putting off what we want now, for what we want later. But before the end comes and you think you have all this promised time to cash in, you must enjoy the ride. The values, lessons, experience, success, its not all given when you reach that white line. Its earnt along the way, taught by life as it happens and you must be willing to accept it. That is where happiness lies, that is where life is enjoyed.