I’m not sure if they had a standard image for the calculations, or if they had a browser cookie on my laptop and they showed me a more targeted banner close to my age-range. But looking at it reminding me of everything that is wrong with the way most people look at retirement. Yes I agree that we all need to be saving at least a little bit every month for when we are old and grey, (Even thought most 65 year olds I know don’t look like that) but the idea of working 40+ years to be able to start living the life you want at age 65+ is just so wrong.
I have always said that you should live your life accordingly to your age, and I know that sometimes life can bring unexpected surprises that turn your life 180 degrees but in general you should always try to live the fullest at each stage of your life. As it might have happened to you as it happened to me, when I was a kid I wanted to be cool and in High School, when in High School I wanted to be off working or in College, then in College you remember how easy it was to be a kid, when you are off to “the real world” (Which is one of the lamest terms I have heard in US schools) you wish you could be back in school without having to worry about work, stress, traffic etc. If you take it one step further, how many people do you know of that start going to clubs and partying in their 50’s because they did not do it in their 20’s (there is a lot of that in Miami where I’ve spend a lot of time) or how many people in their early 20’s and 30’s lose probably some of the best years of their lives working at a job they hate instead of going after their dreams, heck if you are to fail pursuing your dreams that is the age to do it. The point is make sure you are living and enjoying whatever stage you are in, later you might regret it.
You have to understand that we live in a society where there is a “system” that was designed over 100 years ago to keep workers in factories and the economy going, but please understand that you do not have to live the life of a factory worker (with a fancier suit and a nicer cubicle and laptop) unless you want to. In order to free yourself from it there has to be sacrifices, value and spend your hard earned money in life experiences instead of buying the fancy shoes and jeans all of your friends are wearing. DO NOT GET IN DEBT, this is the #1 reason why most people can’t seem to get off the rat race, it takes a lot of will power to go against a consumerist society, but if you really think about it you do not need the brand new car every 4 years, your iPhone 4 is working just fine so there is no need to go get the latest one, while giving Apple and ATT, etc the money you could be saving to start your own side-business, or taking a little vacation.
To live a different life, you have to start thinking and acting differently. Albert Einstein said Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Here are some ideas to living life to the fullest without having to wait 40+ years.
1. Take Mini-Retirements along the way.
If you enjoy working for a corporation and plan to climb up the corporate ladder, think of ways to take 1 to 2 months off every couple of years, this includes putting all of your vacation and sicks days together and maybe talking the big boss into letting you work remotely for a few weeks while you go explore whatever it is that you like to do, how about traveling somewhere you always wanted to go, or taking time out to spend with family and friends.
I have a saying “there isn’t a worse task than the one left undone.” Perhaps you are wondering what your boss might say if you ask him to work remotely?, how about asking for a month vacation? or what about that business idea you’ve always had and never worked on? You wonder and wonder if you might lose your job, if you might get in trouble, if you won’t be able to make it? We as humans are wired to always think of all the negative outcomes from our decision making because we are afraid to lose what we have. I believe that there isn’t a worse feeling than that of not knowing what could have happened if you asked your boss, or if you did work on that idea you had.
2. Spend less = Enjoy more.
I’m sure you are well aware of the wonders of compound interest. It’s beautiful if you are working on the right side of it (just play with the compound interest calculator). For every dollar invested at a rate of 10% it will double every 7(1/2) years. The problem is that this is how the banks also make their money, so for every debt you owe, every credit card you keep paying, the compounding interest goes to the bank. So seriously stop for a moment and think about all those compulsive things that you buy without even thinking about it, they might start with the $4 Starbucks coffee to the LED TV and the new SUV, and I’m not saying that you should not enjoy your money and spend it on things that you actually enjoy using, but know that for every one of those purchases you make you are sacrificing another hour, another day at the office.
If travel is one the things you’d like to experience, if you know how to budget well, you can explore the beaches of Thailand and most of SE Asia for less than $40/per day, or go to Central and South America and do the same. Everything in life is a trade-off, is just a matter of knowing how to balance everything so you can experience a fuller and happier life.
3. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ― Confucius
Confucius who lived 500 years before Christ had it all Right! One of the best things you can try to achieve in life to be extremely happy is to choose a job that fulfills you and makes you happy. I’m not saying that there is a job that will make you 100% happy 100% of the time. Every single job is still a job, I’m sure all the jobs that most people dream of, become tiresome after a while, the singers, the actors, the athletes, etc I’m quite positive do not enjoy every single minute of it, but I’m sure they are happy doing it because that is what fills their lives. If you work on finding a job or creating one that makes you happy this will ultimately help you feel satisfied everyday instead of having to wait 40 years for it.
I leave you with a quick question to yourself. What will be the total worst outcome if you go pursue your dreams today? If you always wanted to travel, could you save up for that plane ticket and take off? How about asking for that promotion or applying for that new job you always wanted? I guess we will never know, but remember there isn’t a worse task than the one left undone.