Dreaming about Retirement? Don’t dream, make it real today

“I want to have a lot of money quickly I can so I can retire as soon as possible.”

As an executive and career coach, I hear this a lot. Too much, in fact.

Why are we in such a hurry to retire? What is so important about being retired? What is so unimportant about what we are doing now that we would long for retirement? Are we “wasting” the first 40 years of our working lives? To do. . . what?

The first—and, I think, most obvious—problem with this idea is that in longing for tomorrow, you are not allowing yourself to be happy today.

As well, you are betting everything on something that may or may not even happen. The world is changing quickly, and none of us know what the future will look like.

Humans have proven to be poor prognosticators.  My dad passed when he was just 49 years old. I am very grateful he didn’t wait to do many of the things he loved but still, how many things did he postpone? I don’t know.

The toll our stressed lives has on our health and general well-being are huge. You could make it to retirement, but what if you are sick and need medication? What if you lose your mobility? What does the dream look like then?

Are you using your time, energy and skills today, building a fantasy, one that may or may not come true?

What if you could start living your dream life right now? While it may seem obvious once you think about it—and too often we don’t—but now is the only time in which we truly exist. The past is gone forever. And the future is something we can’t count on. We can build it as we go but we are not the only player in our future and it is far too unpredictable to trust the outcome.

So, what about now? What is it that you want right now? What are your special skills or talents you’ve held dear and not shared with anyone? What skills are you planning to develop when you retire? What did you do as a child when you were in complete flow (a complete focus on what you are doing when time and everything else becomes nonexistent) that you might like to do again?

Let’s imagine for a minute that you have taken that holiday you so desperately needed, you are relaxed and well. If you had all the money, time and health you could wish for, what would you do? What is it you think you have to wait until retirement to do?

Now imagine what you could do today to get a little more of that now. Think about the first step—again, something you could do today—that will bring you a little closer to that dream. It is possible to take more of those steps every day. And, inevitably, taking those steps will take up the time you usually spend doing things you loathe (a great side benefit!)

Change doesn’t have to be dramatic. You can start gradually and grow every day. I’m not suggesting that you should start from scratch—quit your job and pursue a different career altogether. Maybe there is something you would love to do at work. Have you told anybody about it? Take one small step, then another then another. . . You will soon realize that you love what you are doing—and you are living your dream. Right now.

I believe we all have a purpose in life. When you live to honour the talents that are given to you to fulfill that purpose, when you can live your life in the present doing as much as possible of what you love, only then you can be happy. A positive spin-off is that you can also become really good at what you do.

No matter your age, if you are counting the days to retirement, I invite you to stop for a minute and think about this: What do you really want? Dreaming about more money or more time are usually signs that you need something else out of life. It is your body and soul telling you that you might have missed something. Try to determine what that is and then get on the road to a truly happy life. 

If you need help finding the clarity you need to take to that first step, I can help. Contact me today.