You can retire today.
We’re taught from young adolescence throughout our adult years to “start preparing for retirement.” When you get your first paycheck, you find that portion of your hard-earned money is going to retirement savings. You keep saving a part of every check for the rest of your career, because that’s what every financial expert and planner tells you to do. The earlier you start thinking about retirement, the more prepared you’ll be.
But often this focus on “saving for retirement” is at the expense of a life well-lived and a post-work existence well-prepared.
Saving for retirement can actually damage your current and future situation.
The “When I” Mindset
When I make x amount of money, I’ll retire.
When I’m x years old, I can have a better work-life balance.
When my kids are x years old, I’ll have more time to focus on my health.
When I finish this project, I’ll be less stressed.
When I get the next promotion, I’ll start traveling.
When I’m financially secure, I’ll be happy.
These statements are all basically saying the same thing:
I will sacrifice my happiness and my life now for the security of my future.
Ultimately, “saving for retirement” is more than just saving a little bit of money each month to have a nice nest egg. You’re saving money, but you’re also saving your happiness. “Saving for retirement” has come to mean putting off or “saving” your life and enjoyment until retirement.
Retirement isn’t just a financial way of looking at life. It impacts how we utilize our time in our daily lives.
Scared To Security
The idea of retirement is, in essence, that you work enough now to financially offset the years of your life where you aren’t working.In reality, “saving for retirement” is a scare tactic by financial advisors and experts who are fearful of the economy and market. Public officials also use the idea of retirement as a tactic to encourage support of government programs that rely on the network effect, like Social Security.
Financial planners tell us that saving for retirement ensures our financial safety. We all plan for retirement expecting that the steps we take will guarantee a secure future. But that’s not the case. The economy is volatile, inflation deepens, and government programs change every term.
Interestingly, it’s even possible that saving for retirement can impact your current finances in a way that negatively rolls over to future finances.
For example, low-income individuals or those in debt might be living paycheck to paycheck when saving for retirement. They can get behind on bills and payments in a way that negatively impacts their credit score and checking accounts. They end up paying more interest, higher premiums, and have less access to quality financial opportunities. In the long run, they’re “saving” for retirement but actually damaging their financial status moving forward.
Plus, a number of people actually retire too soon and they end up unable to meet their financial goals for their lives. They retire early because they’re anxious to finally live… but then they don’t have the means or health to live that desired life.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be saving or investing your money. At some point, you may not be able to work and you’ll need a pad of savings to live on. You should still be saving money for your future.
But it’s important to expel the fantasy that saving for retirement ensures that one day we will be happy and secure.
There is no promise of future of security.
So stop sacrificing your life today in the hopes that one day you’ll have freedom.
You can have freedom today while still preparing for your future.
“It’s a paradox. How does one balance living in the now with preparing responsibly for the future? The key to this dilemma lies in the distinction between ‘worrying about the future’ and ‘preparing for the future.’ The two concepts are not at all the same.”
The Aging Approach
For many people, retirement is the time they plan to finally do all those recreational activities they love.
What do you want to do when you retire?
Golf? Play with your kids? Go to the beach? Skydive? Start a mom and pop bakery?
The average age of retirement is 62. In most cases, your kids have grown up by then. You can’t go to their soccer games or school plays anymore. They’ve already learned how to throw a baseball. Your kids won’t wait for you to be done working to spend time with them.
Moreover, age brings with it a natural decline in physical health. Aches and pains become more common. Suddenly, skydiving with a bad back seems a little more daunting than it did when you were 30.
If you wait until retirement to live your life, you’ve missed 60 years of living.
Interestingly, though, health doesn’t have to correlate with age. In fact, a number of our age-related health concerns can be traced back directly to work-related stress.
Heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, stroke, and suicide are among the greatest killers in America. These diseases and ailments are proportionally linked to stress. This long-term, health-impacting stress most often stems from a work-heavy existence without focusing on health or happiness.
Learn more about the link between disease and stress below:
- Stress and your heart
- Psychological stress and cancer
- The impact of stress on the lungs
- How stress may increase risk of heart disease and stroke
- Stress and suicide
If you maintain a strong work-life balance throughout your life, you’ll better be able to preserve your health. You can focus on avoiding stress, participating in fun recreational activities, spending time with your family and friends, and promoting your happiness—all of which improve your health.
You’re happy and stress-free, so you’ll be able to work longer without needing—or wanting—to retire.
Plus, a happy worker is a more motivated and productive worker. The more motivated and productive you are, the more likely you’ll be successful. Success brings financial abundance that can help you pad your retirement savings and improve your current quality of life.
“Saving for retirement” means being happy today.
You can “retire” today if you give up these mindsets of “when I” and potential future security. You can stop wasting your life in the hopes that one day you too can have the work-life balance that you desire.
Turn “when I” into “today I.” Stop running for the carrot at the end of the stick. There’s no better time to be happy than today.
Remember you can only control the future by the choices you make today.
Live life in a mode of retirement. What have you been saving until retirement to do? Do it tomorrow.
It’s time to integrate your work and life in a way that will make you happy and secure today.
Changing the way you think about your work-life balance is good for your financial wellbeing and overall health and wellness.
The best way to ensure you are financially and personally free is with flexible work. Learn more about finding your freedom with flexible work options below:
- Why Flextime Is The Best Type Of Flexible Work Arrangement
- 13+ Benefits Of Flexible Work You Can’t Ignore
- How To Say “No” For Work-Life Balance
Most importantly, transform the mindset about your life. Stop thinking about how you pay for your life and instead think about how you live your life. Money should be a secondary means to helping provide you the life you want.
The Bottom Line
“It’s up to us as individuals to take control and responsibility for the types of lives that we want to lead. If you don’t design your life, then someone else may just design it for you. And you may not like their idea of balance.”
– Nigel Marsh, TEDxSydney “How to make work-life balance work”
Work-life balance starts right now.
Stop thinking that your life will be better when you retire. You can have that same sense of freedom and happiness today.
Sign up for FREE with Forge to start taking control of your schedule, your happiness, and your work-life balance. Start saving for your future while living your life today.