Get a good job, work for 30 – 40 years, retire, and then live the life of fulfillment you really want. For most people, this is the plan based on the way they structure their retirement financial planning. It means waiting until they reach their 60s to really start living the life they want. Is this you? If so, have you considered what you’re really signing yourself up for?
Where are you going?
If you ask most people what they plan to do when they retirement, you’ll receive answers along the lines of:
- Travel more
- Do more charity work
- Spend more time with friends and family
- Quit working
- Enjoy life
Those all sound like very noble pursuits and great ways to do use your time. How does they compare to your retirement list? You *do* have a list, right? If not, it’s probably a good idea to create one. To quote the late Zig Ziglar “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
Think about it. Each day you’re progressing further through life. It makes sense to have some sort of picture of what you want your life to look like when you get older. If you do have a list, how much of it are you living now?
My Personal List
For example, here’s what I want from my life as I get older. While it’s always subject to change, this is the current list.
- Teach martial arts
- Spend 4 months of the year living abroad
- Share the little I’ve learned in life with others
- Spoil the grandchildren
- Donate to educational charities
- Work remotely
While not a huge list, it reflects what’s important to me.
Testing the Waters
Since I’ve done such an amazing job convincing you that you need a list, you probably stopped reading my post for a few minutes to create one right? Awesome! Now how much of what’s on that list are you living right now? Because there’s currently no rewind button for life it really makes sense make sure that what you think you want, is really what you want. It would be horrible to spend a lifetime in planning, only to realize you climbed the wrong mountain.
The best way I can think of to ensure your list matches your true long-term desires is to begin living the life you see for your future self now. Let’s go back to my list:
Teach martial arts
I love martial arts. The style I practice is called Tang Soo Do. It’s a not-so-distant cousin to the much more popular Tae Kwon Do. I’ve been training for almost 8 years now. Because one of the best ways to get better at anything is to teach it, I set the goal of becoming a certified instructor 2 years ago, when I tested for E Dan (Second degree black belt).
Earlier this year, I received the approval to test for instructor and I passed! Since then, I’ve been more actively helping out with classes and mentoring new students. This item is one I definitely don’t ever see myself stopping.
Spend 4 Months of the Year Living Abroad
Because I grew up overseas, I’ve always enjoyed experiencing different cultures. Last year I was fortunate to travel to Tokyo, Japan for the first time. I was there for a week which was entirely too short. Tokyo is the only place I’ve been that after being there for only 2 days, I was already making plans to visit again.
I visited again this year for one week. Once my work schedule is less hectic, I’d like to try living in Japan for a few months out of the year. Four months might end up being too much, but it seems like a good number to start with.
Share the Little I’ve Learned in Life With Others
That’s where this blog comes in. I don’t have a ton of interests which allows me to dig deeper into the things that I do care about. A big part of the reason I created this blog and the short e-books is so I can share my experiences with others. I received help from many people over the years so it’s important to pay it forward. If I can help someone starting out with getting from point A -> B in less time why not? The same problem shouldn’t have to be solved twice.
Since I have to regularly add new content, this blog is also a fun exercise in self-discipline.
Spend Time with the Grandchildren
Although I don’t have any as yet (my kids aren’t old enough), I can’t leave this one off the list. Who knows? It might eventually change to “Run and hide from the grandchildren”. Ha!
Donate to Educational Charities
I really value education. It’s a huge part of the reason why I’m such an avid reader. While most people put some effort into taking care of their bodies, not nearly enough time is spent improving the mind. I try to do a small part by donating to educational charities and posting video reviews of interesting books I read. I really enjoy doing this so I imagine I’ll want to expand it as I have more free time.
I’m one of those weird people that doesn’t really have a desire to ever stop working. I’m a firm believer that work is an important part of being human. It’s one of the best ways we consistently provide service to others. I would be absolutely bored out of my mind if I woke up every day with nothing to do. You can only play so much golf, eat out so much, and travel so much before it all becomes rote. I receive the most fulfillment when I’m able to help someone else.
I’ve been fortunate to work in a field that allows me to largely work from home. Having worked remotely for almost 10 years, I can’t see myself ever wanting to regularly go into an office. The 5-minute commute and working in sweat pants is pretty tough to beat. With the various collaboration tools we have available, I’m still able to stay connected with my colleagues.
Climb the Right Mountain
Hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought to help you appreciate the importance of living a life of fulfillment now. By beginning with the end in mind, you have a much better chance of ending with a result you’ll be happy with. If you’re not already doing it, start incorporating items from your personal list into your current routine. It’s the best way I know to ensure the list really matches what you’re after.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not able to do everything on the list initially. Pick 1 or 2 items and start integrating them into your current life. You may find out that you hate traveling and charity work is your calling. Only one way to find out…