"Every day has two handles, we can take it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of the faith." ~ Henry Ward Beecher
Retirement. A word that fills people with both excitement and fear.
On the one hand, we are enthusiastic about the possibilities offered by retirement. The possibility to travel, to try new hobbies, to live our lives as we want.
On the other hand, we worry if we have enough money to survive until the unknown age in which we will die. And maybe not just survive but actually thrive in our last years.
That fear, that endless worry for the future, is what keeps many people stuck in the careers of the soul. Following the safe path of life, trying to save money for that day when they will no longer work. Sacrificing their precious life in exchange for a sense of security later.
I understand those fears about the future and retirement. I recently turned forty-nine, which means my retirement is only fifteen. Fifteen years may seem long, but I know those years will pass soon.
I have a little money saved on retirement accounts and will also receive a small pension. And I hope to also receive money from social security.
Will it be enough? And how long will the money last? I have no idea.
My retirement years could have been very different. Three times in my life I moved away from a job that paid me a lot of money and paid generous pension benefits. My friends who have decided to stay in those jobs will probably have few worries when they retire.
So yes, I gave up a lot of money and a secure pension. But I also saved my soul in the process. Those jobs I left? They were destroying me.
I hated being stuck in a cubicle. I hated sitting in front of a computer all day. I hated writing useless reminders. I hated going to meetings to talk about things that did not matter to me.
My father spent more than twenty years in a job he hated because he had no choice. He had to support his wife and three children. And I saw firsthand how that job remained to destroy it. And I swore a long time ago not to do to myself what he did to himself.
So I did everything necessary to get out of those jobs. And then I used some of my savings and I had time to do things that people say they will retire:
I have traveled the world, visiting over thirty countries and living in many others.
I volunteered with street children in Mexico and with cancer patients in the Philippines.
I leaned on the Spanish, starting from the zero point until it became almost fluent.
I lived in a yoga center in Pennsylvania and a meditation center in Wisconsin.
And then I started my business so I could live life on my own terms, instead of how others wanted or expected me to live it.
In my opinion, there is not a sum of money that makes the stay in a job you hate. Not for me, at least. No, unless you have absolutely no other choice. Life is now, not in an imagined future.
Honestly, I have no idea what the future holds and what my retirement will be like. I may not have much money when that time happens. And the money I have for retirement could run out quickly.
But over the years I have learned to be adaptable. I learned how to do without it. I learned to live simply.
Above all, I learned that the three most important things in life are connection, community and contribution. Those are things that can not be bought with money. And as long as I have it, everything else is negotiable.
So whatever happens in the future, I trust in myself and in my ability to adapt. I know that I will understand something.
And I will not survive … I will prosper!
Maybe I will join the Peace Corps.
Maybe I will live in a monastery in Thailand and I will study Buddhism in depth.
Perhaps I will teach English in a rural village in Peru in exchange for food and lodging.
Heck, maybe I'll drive a school bus until I'm seventy-five years old as my father (and absolutely loved!) After finally leaving his soul-sucking job.
I leave you with this message. If you're in a suck-soul job, and you're just for the money, then do everything possible to get out as soon as possible. Your precious life is not worth wasting.
Yes, you need money to survive. We all do. But there are always far better options than to sacrifice your life for money.
So if you're ready to stop worrying about the future and start living your life now, here are my tips for you:
Accept and trust that you will find a way to make things work in the future, even if you are not sure how.
It is likely that you are more intelligent, resourceful and adaptable than you believe. And that you will find a way to survive not only in the future but also to prosper. This is what I discovered when I started taking more risks in my life.
For example, I thought I could not learn a foreign language. But once I got myself into the right situation (intensive classes in Mexico), I quickly discovered that I could learn a foreign language.
I also thought that I could not adapt to living in a foreign country. My first two attempts ended after three months because of homesickness. But my third attempt was successful and I now live in Bogota, Colombia for over five years. I have adapted to live here even if I thought I could not do it.
Start taking some risks and check your limits. Just like me, you will learn to be more resourceful and adaptable – skills that will help you both in the future and give you more options in life.
Strike a balance between now and the future.
You need money for the future and for retirement. But you must also live in the hour. Aim to find a balance between these two competing desires. Do everything possible to live your life now while you are preparing for the future.
For example, when I go out to eat with my friends, they often order a glass of wine, an appetizer, a main course and a dessert, spending $ 50 per person. I, on the other hand, order only one main dish and drink water, spending $ 10-15 dollars. I continue to enjoy a good meal and the company of my friends (who live now) while spending a lot less money (preparing for the future).
Abandon the idea that life should appear in a particular way.
Many people follow the sure path in life because that's what everyone else sees. But there is no reason why your life should resemble that of everyone else.
At forty, most of my friends and family had settled down, bought houses, started families and worked for years. On the other hand, when I was about forty, I quit my job, sold all my possessions, and rucksacked in Latin America and Eastern Europe. That's not what most people in their forties do, but that's what I wanted to do.
In the same way, I am sure that my retirement will be very different from that of my friends and family. But my life is not bound by what others do and not yours. Live the life you want, the life that resonates with your heart – both now and in the future!
Accept that the future is ultimately unknowable.
None of us knows what the future holds. And no matter how much you plan for the future, your future will probably prove to be very different from what you expect. I know that mine has – for example, I never expected to live in Bogota, Colombia, nor did I expect to own my business.
There is nothing wrong with planning for the future, but in the end you can not control it. So I suggest you embrace the unknown, go with the flow and see what goes on in your life.
In the end, you only have one chance in life. You can wait around for the future, wait around for your retirement to finally start living the life you want. Or you can start taking steps to do it now and let the future take care of yourself when it arrives. The choice is yours.
About Ed HerzogEd Herzog is a life coach whose mission is to help people discover an authentic career path that allows them to use their talents and passions to make a positive contribution to the world. If you are looking for an authentic career path, you can start today by downloading its FREE guide: 10 powerful questions to discover your life Purpose.
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