I don’t want to get too hung up on deathbed confessions and wishes. Each person is unique. Some people might wish for reconciliation with a lost loved one. Others might wish to have more time. Still others might wish to have had more travel experiences.
Seldom do we hear of someone dying express a wish that they had a larger bank account.
This seems to scan with our understanding of how life works, and what makes a life meaningful or worth living.
So in order to live a full and satisfying life, as you examine what you want out of the new year, here are some ideas to ponder.
Focus on time itself
You can earn more money but you can’t create new memories. You can delay a vacation forever in order to make more money for that vacation.
Sure, you might then have more money to spend, and stay at a slightly nicer hotel, or eat at better restaurants, but are you traveling for the hotels, or the locations?
Instead, focus on how you use your time.
Putting things off for too long may mean they don’t happen at all. Your health is not promised to you. Life offers all sorts of curveballs over time, including deaths, illness, job changes, and surprise expenses.
It means you are trading your vacation time to work instead.
Wealth is meaningless without health. Can you hike the alps in your old age?
Why wait until then to go there? What kind of a plan puts you in hilly Greece when your knees can’t climb hills?
Further, we look for travel and other experiences to impact how we think about our life. We want them to change us, to enrich our later experiences. How will the experiences you haven’t had affect your life? They won’t.
Focus on experiences
Having an experience changes you permanently and expands your horizons. You feel like a new person and, in some important ways, you are.
There are many ways that a person can grow and change over time. In some cases, how you shape your opinions and your memories, and how you shape your experiences, can change you a little bit over time. That time compounds, and your experiences are re-lived and they echo through your actions, your experiences, your tastes.
You can – and should – become wealthy in experience instead of in cash. Now, with these experiences behind you and changing your life, instead of in front of you and driving you to work harder, you make decisions differently.
You have more time to enjoy the memory of these trips. You can give the gift of experiences.
Nothing is promised to you. There is joy in living in the moment and pursuing your best self right now.
You don’t need massive savings
Why put away money now to give it to your older, richer self who is making even more money as a more experienced professional? That older version of yourself will be okay without you having given them every penny you have earned.
What if your boss asked you to work for free. Would you do that? Probably not.
What about all that money you are earning in order to save it up? If you are not going to be able to spend it before you die, that is hours and hours of lost labor.
This is money that you might be unable to use, and thus wasted hours of working for … well, essentially for free.
This is the life cycle hypothesis, as explained in the book To Die With Zero by Bill Perkins. In this hypothesis, you should spend your wealth over the course of your entire life instead of the usual pattern of working so hard to help it accumulate.
Instead, in the life cycle hypothesis, It is smart to pursue life-changing adventures while you still have a great deal of life left to be changed.
It is common to want to wait until retirement – typically 67 years of age – to enjoy our savings. But why? In actuality, our real golden years arrive much earlier than retirement – as much as a decade sooner when we are 50-55 years old.
The hours that we continue to work and save just in those ten years are immense. And meanwhile we are becoming marginally less healthy, and marginally more likely to experience life-altering health conditions.
What if you, like the average person, ends up passing on a large inheritance? Great, but you may have wasted 6000 hours working when you could have been traveling, spending time with loved ones, or pursuing hobbies.
Isn’t it selfish to spend this money on yourself?
You might ask, isn’t this being selfish?
Ask instead, how much of your wealth is yours, and how much is your children’s? Many people think they want to leave a good amount of money for their children, and struggle to do this.
What if, instead, you gave this money to their children BEFORE you pass away. After all, if you live the expected life span, you won’t be giving this money away until your own children will be, on average, 60 years old.
Your children will benefit far more from getting their inheritance sooner rather than later.
Many parents selfishly hold on to their money for decades rather than to spend that inheritance on them. Perhaps even choosing to do this in the form of memorable travel experiences that in turn enrich and enliven their lives as well.
Do you have a challenging money or goals problem that is costing you sleep, or robbing you of your sense of independence? You likely will benefit from talking to a licensed therapist like Sakina Issa.
Luckily, these conversations can happen discreetly and by appointment using the same tools you have grown comfortable using at work, like Zoom or GoToMeeting. Just click the button in the upper right hand corner.
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