Photo by Max Harlynking on Unsplash

Don’t Wait for Retirement, Enjoy Life Now

Are you ready for retirement? If you said yes, you’re in a shrinking set of the prepared few. Nearly a quarter of people say they have no plans to retire. Nearly another quarter say they’ll have to work beyond age 65. Some might find this surprising.

Not me.

If I sat in a room with everyone I know, I’d be hard pressed to throw a rock and not hit someone woefully unprepared for retirement.

To be honest, I don’t take the idea of retirement all that seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I’m saving for that day–so apparently I’m ahead of most Americans on that front–but the idea that there will be a day when I don’t work at all seems about as realistic as the latest Marvel movie. I’m a writer. Other than a crick in my neck and, someday, some carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s hard to imagine what could keep me from my writing desk.

Of course, there are all sorts of reasons a person in my line of work might not be able to earn a living. An accident or debilitating disease could make it impossible–but that could happen tomorrow just as easily as it could happen 30 years from now.

Don’t Wait ‘Til It’s Too Late

It’s almost a cliche at this point. A hardworking man or woman is ready to embrace the freedom of retirement, only to find themselves spending more time battling a disease than traveling or taking up new hobbies. If you’re Danny Glover, you might even find yourself embroiled in a dangerous new case with a loose cannon for a partner.

In all seriousness, how many people have you known in your life who spend their prime years toiling away so that they can retire in comfort and finally pursue the kind of life they always wanted, only to find themselves hemmed in by health concerns or other life circumstances? The other day, Brian–my significant other–came home and told me a story someone at work had told him. An uncle and his wife were working their butts off to be able to buy a boat and spend their retirements sailing into the sunset. Brian knew I would love/hate this story, because it’s exactly the kind of procrastination that drives me up a wall.

Tomorrow is never guaranteed. While it’s wise to plan for the future, more people need to actively plan for the now.

Somewhere, Tim McGraw is blaring out of the windows of someone’s car, imploring them to “live like you were dying“–and while it’s easy to roll your eyes at his “sky diving and Rocky Mountain climbing,” the truth is, we could all benefit from putting a little more emphasis on the kind of life we want to live now, and stop assuming we’ll get to live at all tomorrow.

Take a little advice from Tim McGraw and ask yourself what you would do if you knew you were dying. I’ll bet the answer isn’t, “Work longer hours.” Once you know the answer to the question, start finding small ways to reshape your life, putting more emphasis on the things you want to do, and less on the things you have to do.

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