A number of weeks ago I was catching up with an acquaintance when they asked me, are you retired? The question made me laugh as I am a lot of things, but retired is not one of them. I then asked them why they thought I was retired?

He replied by saying, “I see the life you are living – you bought a home in the Adirondack Mountains, you lived full-time in an RV for seven months, you spend a lot of time traveling and doing what you love so I just assumed you made the money you needed to retire”. I replied by saying that living the life you want to live has nothing to do with making money or retirement.

With all of the hype there is around preparing for your retirement, it is no wonder that there is envy for those who get to “retire early”. As one of my colleagues once said, I cannot wait to retire, and I hope I can do it early so I can finally begin doing the things I want to do. 

With the majority viewing retirement as my colleague does and so much attention being given to it, the real question, much like the statement I made to my acquaintance is, why are you waiting to retire to live the life you want? 

If Retirement Never Comes

One thing that so many forget is that none of us are guaranteed retirement. Currently, the average age for retirement in the US is 66. For me, that is another 16 years away and there is no certainty (although there is hope) that I will make it to age 66.

Quite sadly, I know of several individuals who died unexpectedly before they reached 50 and many others who had major life circumstances disrupt their retirement plans. So living on the promise of someday i.e. retirement is quite a flawed strategy because someday may never come.

Live For Your Values Not Retirement 

One of the questions that I ask all of my coaching clients is “what do you truly value?” In response to this question, I have yet to hear any of my clients say money. Most often I hear them say they value freedom, adventure, independence, family, relationships, community, creativity, faith, making an impact, and more. 

While you may resonate with these or have other things that you value, why not start living out those values? None of these values have anything to do with retirement.

Since my wife and I have begun living out those things we value i.e. Life Design, we have traveled more (11 states, 4 countries, and multiple national parks).

Despite COVID, we have gone to four-day work-weeks, we run a profitable business, and are happier than we have ever been. In fact, I can assuredly say we are living our best life and not even close to even thinking about retirement. 

What Are You Waiting For?

If you have made it this far in your reading and there is any kind of inkling inside you that you need to stop waiting and start living then my goal for writing this blog has been accomplished. 

Begin with writing down the things you truly value. Once you have those documented take a hard look to determine if you are living out your values financially, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and relationally. If you are married or in a relationship, have your partner do the same. Taking this approach enables you to align with yourself and your partner; even if you differ on your values. 

Once you have the alignment in place, determine what agreements you will make in order to stay aligned to your values and then begin planning. Even the smallest of shifts can have a significant impact.

Retirement is great in theory and we should all be taking steps to be financially stable as we age. However, there is no need to wait for retirement to begin living the life you want. You can do that now if you take the time to design your life. 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash