The concept of a traditional retirement is extinct. And in its place, a world of freedom and enjoyment to experience now. Here’s why, and how you can start living the life you’re dreaming of today.
When I was younger, I was a saver. I saved my favorite stickers and temporary tattoos, thinking they were too good to use on any old day. I saved the best bites on my plate for the very end of my meal. I saved my favorite outfits for special occasions, settling for casual everyday wear that I didn’t love. It was a way to work up to what I knew would be a triumphant end of luxurious, tasty, and tattooed bliss.
But, I realized that the triumphant end didn’t always come. The stickers and tattoos would go unused, their coolness having faded away. My stomach would get full before I could shovel in the most savory bites, and I’d outgrow my seldom-worn favorite outfits. The same is true for the concept of retirement, and there’s no sense waiting for it to roll around.
If you could retire today, what would you do with your life?
Would you travel more, or work less hours? Relocate to somewhere warm? Would you volunteer, or spend more time with family? Or master skills you’re passionate about but haven’t yet gotten around to? Rather than save those experiences for some far-away future, I say do it now. Retirement is extinct, and the best experiences are the ones that actually happen.
Easier said than done, right? NO!
Step 1: Make a list of everything you’ve ever wanted to do.
A dream list. It could be anything – get a pilot’s license, go scuba diving, learn Italian, skydive, meet the President… Whatever. This step is easy. Most of us have a mental list of these things, but never take the time to write them down. Writing them down and keeping them in an easily accessible place, like Evernote, or Apple Reminders, is a must.
Step 2: Now, what does everything cost?
How much money will you need to invest or time will you need to spend to achieve these goals? Write that down too. Quantifying our dreams makes them more than just dreams. With actual numbers, you can start thinking about next steps.
Step 3: Filter by what is realistic.
Maybe you can’t go out and buy a Maserati today, so instead, put that on the 5-year plan. But there are things that you CAN do today, and identifying those is the most important part of this exercise.
If you put aside $20/month for a year, then you will have saved enough to go get that SCUBA license. If you spend just 5 minutes a day on Duolingo, you’ll learn Italian in no time! The important parts, again, are identifying and quantifying.
First, see the big picture, then break it down.
Time to adjust your life. It’s funny how we put limitations on ourselves based on the habits we’ve formed. Just because you live in a certain place, or work certain hours, or hang out with certain people, doesn’t mean you can’t change it all in one split second decision.
So, considering your new life-long retirement strategy, what can you change today? Maybe you’ll move. Maybe you’ll leave work every day at 4PM. Maybe you’ll book a trip on your credit card.
Life has a way of working itself out if you give it the opportunity. So start living the life you want. Don’t save it all up for later, because the experiences you earn will far outweigh the dreams you outgrow.
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