Planning for retirement typically includes saving enough to cover your expenses, reducing costs and maybe downsizing your home. All of this is done in anticipation of the day when you will finally be “free of working”! But will not working really bring you the happiness you are anticipating?
Or is what you are seeking a way to spend your time doing something that you are passionate about? Being constantly under time pressure and on the hook for various nonsense and then constantly worrying about restructuring and being laid off does create a lot of stress. This can sap the enjoyment out of life, but suddenly going from the rat race to idle time with no commitments does not seem to lead to ultimate happiness. In fact, my observations have been that suddenly having nothing you must do can lead to feelings of boredom, isolation, depression and having no purpose. I have witnessed this happening within my own family.
Family gatherings have gone from discussing:
· How stressful work is, how bad management is, how unfair the policies are and what a bad boss they have and how they cannot wait to retire and get out.
· Aches and pains, complaints about the government and society, dealing with limitations due to medical issues, losing touch with other people, regrets about opportunities not taken when they had the chance and never getting to enjoy retirement before it was too late.
The point is, long term happiness is not as simple as ditching your job and then being totally stress free. The human mind is always active and you need something to focus your thoughts and energy on to keep you engaged and maintain your mental and physical health. This must be something compelling and meaningful to you. What we are really seeking is not to stop “working” but to spend our time “working” on something that brings us joy and satisfaction. Haven’t you heard people quoted as saying something like “do something you love and you will never work a day in your life”? The fact is that the people who are working in jobs they really enjoy don’t feel stressed and burned out, even if they are putting in many hours and lots of effort into their work. Think about people who could easily retire with the wealth they have built over many years, like Warren Buffet or Oprah Winfrey or Paul McCartney. But they keep “working” why? They choose to keep on with their work because this drives them, it is not a chore at all. And this is the one to the big keys to enjoying our “retirement years”.
How many times have you heard some say “Once I retire, I will finally have time to …………”? So the questions is – why wait to retire? Why not start now? There are many part time ventures which can be started on the side while still working a full time job, and these can be scaled up or grown as appropriate. Pick something that you enjoy doing and could make you some extra money. I have a friend who has started a side business making furniture and has set a woodworking shop. Someone else I know makes jewelry and sells it online, another person I met makes stained glass window ornaments and sells them at flea markets on her website, and another friend write fiction novels and edits movie scripts on the side…
For me my passion project is information publishing; writing instructional ebooks, how-to guides, business plans and printable items. This satisfies my creative side while utilizing my technical experience and I can see myself continuing to do this once I “retire”. It makes me enough money to fund itself and extra to invest and enjoy on fancy dinners and weekend getaways. Who knows, it might grow to make me enough money to retire earlier that planned. This is not just a sketchy get rich quick scheme. I view my side business as an investment in my long term happiness and health, just like investing in retirement funds, I am, investing in myself. You never know where this may lead you and you never know what will happen with your current company that says they are doing so well, as I’ve learned several times the hard way. Now is the time to start! Remember, it is never too late…until you decide to give up.