I have for the better part of my working life tried to understand the concept of retirement. I have heard it being preached to me at primary school, high school, university, the church and mostly in the media on a day to day basis.
My understanding thus far (keeping in mind that I am not a financial genius) is that you are required to work for and extended period of time, what you do is irrelevant. In that period of time you have to save a lot of ka-ching so that when you are old you can do all the things you have always wanted to do and obviously not do meaningless work to keep the cash boat afloat.
We have been taught to work dead end jobs so we may retire one day. We have learned a lingo that helps us communicate what we do and the importance of who we are in the “job” market. We have conditioned ourselves to think that some one is worth doing business with/associating with depending on the car they drive or the clothes they wear. We have associated wealth with success…We have become the Jones’s.
What is the alternative to retirement and retirement planning? In short, probably doing what you really desire while you are able to. I say all of this as if it comes easy to me, as if I have arrived at the magic place in time where all makes sense and I live with fairies and gnomes. That would be very far from the truth, but I am living a slightly different lifestyle for better or for worse (we will find out when I retire;) This life style might be to my detriment, but there are millions of people that live unchosen lives for decades only to realise that they can not retire anyway. My body will not wait for my financial retirement to do the things I want it to do. While I can, I want to experience what my life could be and make mistakes of what my life is not supposed to be.
The only way to know if something is worthwhile is to experiment. We have experimented with “work” and yes we have succeeded in achieving what seems a sustainable plan for living and living with a few luxuries. We have seen that 12 hour days gives us money, but because we spend the majority of our time working we also feel the need to reward ourselves with purchases because this is all we have time for. The more money we make the more stuff we purchase. We only have time for immediate gratification that can be bought.
Why not experiment with your own life. Failure is most probably the best way to move forward. It sounds like a cliche but true non the less. I would rather “invest” my time and money for myself. I value my time and my money infinitely more than my financial broker. Money is a dying commodity, information is power and if you do not have time, getting information becomes more and more tricky. I am not referring to information that gives you power to accumulate wealth, I am referring to information that opens an alternative world of living. How this living works is still an experiment, but I will keep you posted.
Working for retirement will cause you to be very good at your job, you will be an absolute expert after 40 years no doubt. But at what cost are you going to be an expert. How much is the TV, car and house really costing you? I am writing this blog while being an aspiring writer,surfer, furniture maker, beer brewer and entrepreneur. I am in the same financial dilemma than most other people if not worse. I have probably just made better peace with the fact that life will happen and that at the end of my life I will not miss reality shows, soaps and the endless sport on television.
Below are the things YOU AND I WILL most probably regret when faced with death. The regrets below is not my imagination, but interviews with thousands of people that where terminally ill and on their death beds…
1: You worked too hard
2: I wish I’d have had the courage to live a life TRUE TO MYSELF, instead of living the life that others expected of me.
3: I wish I would have had the courage to express my feelings honestly instead of thinking they didn’t matter or they weren’t popular.
4: I wish I would’ve stayed in touch with my friends.
5: I wish that I would’ve allowed myself to be happier, smiling more and complaining less.
6: I wish I would’ve gotten to know God better. I’m realizing now, just HOW MUCH He’s always been there.
7: (Women) I wish I had just let the dust sit a little longer, and gone out to play with my children when they pleaded. (Men) I wish I had just let the phone ring, and chosen to stay home with my family more, or gone to that ballgame or that play.
8: I wish I would’ve known NOT to sweat the small stuff. It wasn’t all that important in the end when you are looking at the ‘big picture’. I wouldn’t have even had to be on so much medicine.
9: I wish I would’ve had the attitude of celebrating life instead of enduring it.
10: I wish I would’ve taken a class or two to learn some of the things I gave up when I got married and had a family.