Retirement is fool’s gold, live your life now!

London, nothing quite compares...
London, nothing quite compares…

One of the things Jammie and I decided to do nine months ago was to try to create a life where we experienced the benefits of retirement right now.  Most people, ourselves included, put world travel, high-quality time with those you love and pursuing hobbies, in a “things to do in retirement” bucket.  Here’s why we decided that was a bad idea:

1) Retirement is fool’s gold.

Thinking that retirement is a good reason to neglect your family and your health for 40 years is just a very terrible way to live.  In fact, if you follow most of corporate America and live this way there won’t be much family or health left to enjoy by the time you get that $35 pen engraved with a swirly font, thanking you for your “years of service”.  Don’t buy into the “fool’s gold” of retirement that tells people that it is good to put off the best in life until the end.  This is fundamentally bankrupt.  Reject it now while you have the time.

2) Retirement is too far away.

I think there is a lot to be said for delayed gratification, being content in life and learning to wait.  It is good to be patient. That said, you can definitely make decisions NOW that set you up to taste some of the things that are typically associated with retirement (long-term travel, freedom from a cubicle and living in a way where you call your own shots) in far less time.  CultureMutt is about finding solutions for what we call savvy, global do-gooding.  In our posts we want to give you the inspiration and the tools to plan for and make the jump into a more exciting, fulfilling life of service SOON rather than in some distant retirement.

3). Who knows how you’ll feel when you retire.

I was talking to a retired attorney friend this week via Skype.  He has been a mentor of mine for years.  “I’m so happy you decided to travel now instead of waiting for retirement when you may not have the energy.  That took a lot of foresight!” he said.

I thanked him for the encouragement but on a deeper level I thank the writers and bloggers that convinced me by their ideas and their personal lives, that this kind of life is possible in the here and now.

I’ve had too many friends and family members fall into ill health around retirement age to buy into those posters of smiley seniors frolicking in the sun.  I hope that will be me at 70 but just in case I’m playing dominos at a care facility instead, I’m traveling now.

4). You could die

OK, we’re not going to spend a bunch of time on this very depressing thought.  But who cares if you reach the top of the totem pole in some corporate hell hole if the first day of retirement results in a heart attack?  The stats about retired executives that die within five years or retirement are alarming.  Don’t be that statistic.

5).  Ditching the rat race could be your best financial decision so far.

At the risk of repeating everything I said a couple posts ago about the very healthy financial realities that could be yours if you quit an unfulfilling job to travel and/or follow your passion, let me just state again, with all my heart, that I am SO glad I did not let fear of financial ruin stop me from leaving the office worker life.  The long-term risk of failure in life if you stay in a crap job are FAR greater than the possible temporary financial setbacks of letting passion sculpt your future career.  Nobody is saying it won’t be hard work to create your ideal life.  At first, at least, this kind of independent work is harder than the traditional 9-5 life. But the hard work that you put into doing something your are passionate about and love, is so much more meaningful, exciting and fulfilling than being a slave to a broken system.

Retirement is NOT the answer.  More than ever, we have choices and we can opt to live our ideal lives now.  Keep reading CultureMutt and we will do our best to keep inspiring you and showing you practical tips on how to take the leap, follow your passion and serve the world around you.

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21 thoughts on “Retirement is fool’s gold, live your life now!”

  1. I’ve been thinking about this of late as well Bjorn. Isn’t it interesting most people say they’ll wait til retirement to live. What??? What’s the logic in that? Retirement to travel, retirement to start their passion business and retirement to do what really matters to them.

    IF we go with that line of thinking, most people have wasted their 30-40 years of working life and planning to live it up after they finish working. Who knows where they’ll be at that point??

    1. That’s why I like you, Vishnu, always one step ahead of me:)!! Hahaha! And, as we have both alluded to elsewhere, this idea of not waiting for retirement to truly live does not mean that everyone needs to dedicate their lives to long-term travel (as amazing as that sounds:)) but I do like the idea of “breaking the rules” and doing some intentional lifestyle design that allows for very high quality of life and LOT of freedom right now…

  2. Bjorn,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. While I am not opposed to planning for the future I do feel that each day needs to be a day when we appreciate what God has given us: LIFE. So live it. Take in each moment. Make the moments happen.

    I have seen too many hope for the end to be the answer only to find out they wasted the best years of their lives…

    1. Well put, Japhet! And I agree, I am not saying that we should live irresponsibly now and squander resources, what I AM saying is that there are often great ways to actually live life fully now…
      Thanks for stopping by! I hope all is good at AU… I miss those days.

  3. The way you are living right now is basically the way I grew up. My Dad was self employed and always was on some adventure seeking new opportunities. We didn’t have much money, but I got to travel and see new cultures and watch my parents take chances. When they finally setteled in one place, I could not stay put and at a young age took off to see the world. I regret nothing except that I would like to do this again! Keep inspiring us all…and live life while you can…money is not happiness….happiness comes from living a meaningful life!

    1. Razwana, I am so sorry to hear that your father passed so early. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. My grandfather passed very early too and that sent a shock wave through our family.

      By blogging we can help spread ideas for better quality of life now. I am looking forward to our guest posting!!

  4. As a recent retiree I was inspired by your insights. The only thing I would take exception to is the idea that retirement is the time for “hobbies.” Since time is in rather short supply once retirement arrives, I would say, forget the hobbies and the endless diversions and self-pandering often associated with “ideal retirement.” Instead let the freedom that comes with retirement be seen as an exciting opportunity for no-holds-barred service and contribution.

    1. Well said! And yes, I could have phrased that better. I think life should be spent in a passionate focus on service. And that doesn’t have to be confined to a certain phase of life…

  5. As you closed this post, you pointed out ‘Nobody is saying it won’t be hard work to create your ideal life.’ and I can certainly say that. I quite the rat race back in 2002, established by business in such a way and structured my life to reap the rewards later and I am so thankful I did! Throughout this time, a good friend of mine always liked to point out, ‘you have that flexibility, you can just take days off whenever you like’. My response was always the same, ‘I have this flexibility because I chose it and I made decisions that were risky when people thought that I was foolish’. It used to make me smile every time I had this conversation…

    Life is so much fun! And it’s getting better!!! My wife and our 3 kids are about to embark on a road trip across Europe to Romania where we’ll continue our small project among some of the poorest people. [I’ll have to share our blog with you later].

    Keep inspiring guys! :)

    1. Darren, your comment is pure inspiration!! I DO want to check out your blog:) And seriously, how about a guest post. I need some of your thoughts, fleshed out in the form of a post!!

  6. I agree 100% with everything you said here. We only have one shot at this life thing, so we might as well play it out the way we like.

    I’m glad you brought up the dying subject. I know it’s a morbid thing and most people tend to avoid thinking about it, but personally I think it’s the greatest motivation in the world. We all have a limited time span to do everything we want. If that doesn’t motivate someone to travel the world and do what they love, nothing will.

    Great post man.
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  7. Reading your post and all the comments so far reminded me of my parents. They too worked really hard to build up their business so that one day they could leave it to be run by probably one of the kids and they could go back to Mexico and “live their dream life” Well, they ended up getting a divorce and the source of it was all about money.
    I see so many women in my corporate company in high power positions that have kids and families and I really do wonder is th sacrifice of not seeing thei family for days sometimes weeks really worth it?
    I do admit I do have a fear of not having a “good paying job” and I also don’t want to end up like you the person who is waiting for retirement to “start thei life”. You posts and sharing your experience is very inspirational. I have to ask, how do you plan for taking a year to Travel? Maybe you can create a how to leave your corporate job and travel guide for dummies???

    1. Melissa, thank you so much for being real and for sharing your story. I think a lot of the most painful experiences in my life and in my own life may have looked differently had I learned to put first things first in my lifestyle. It took some really tough times for me to correct course. You know, I have been thinking about something along the lines of what you mentioned with the guide.. stay tuned for an announcement:)

  8. Excellent Bjorn, as long as it’s sustainable.

    I watched a TED talk recently that talked about this very thing–that if work is all we ever do, that in retirement, even our loved ones and hobbies don’t make us happy, because we never developed those relationships and interests to the point where they were fulfilling, so in retirement, they don’t mean as much to us as we hoped we would, and the void = depression.

    1. Wow, do you have the TED talk link? I want to check it out…

      And yes, sustainability is obviously central to all this. What we are finding though, is that a lifestyle that doesn’t postpone the most important things for “retirement” is simultaneously more enjoyable and sustainable than one that is obsessed with climbing ladders on sinking ships.

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