As a twenty-something, I used to have a mindset of work hard and play later. I think I heard it somewhere along the way when I was figuring out my place in this whole new world called “life after college.” And for those who didn’t choose the college route, I refer to the twenty-somethings as the freshman years, the thirty-somethings as the sophomore years and so on. If you’re following along, you know that after those senior years (the fifty-somethings) comes the retirement phase. I can’t help but think in accordance with these years because this is the way I’ve been systematically trained to sector life. We all have. However, there’s more to it than these time breaks and transitions. There is the actual manifestation of it all while it is happening. That, my friend, is called living.
If you do it the so-called right way, then you’ve saved decent savings by the time you are a sixty-something and you’re able to relax at your house. You might own a timeshare if you’re lucky. You might have inherited money from a lost loved one. You might have followed your dreams and ended up with a lump sum. The reality is, most people don’t achieve excellent financial health. They end up having to work well past their retirement cutoff and miss out on the sandy beaches and palm trees. Moreover, by the time they are at the age of retirement, they just might be plagued with other ailments or regrets about what they didn’t do when youth and vigor were on their side.
About a week ago, I was talking to my 93-year-old grandmother. She follows my every move on Facebook. She loves it! As our conversation commenced, she said, “You and Sweet, (as she calls my husband), make sure Y’all keep having fun and living while you’re young because when you get old like me, you’ve got to get somewhere and sit down.” I laughed and encouraged her to keep moving! Then, I thought to myself, she’s been moving and deserves to sit down and watch. For years, my grandmother has hopped on planes and taken long car rides to visit grandchildren or go on vacation. She does her own hair. She could’ve given makeup tutorials long before the youtube age and still can. She surpassed living long after the passing of my grandfather. She’s making the best of life. She truly turns lemons into lemonade and struts to the beat of her own drum. I’ll never forget when she came to my wedding dressed in the sassiest, poised pink number and stood with me to take pictures. It excites me when I see the life she’s lived! I brag about it to everyone I know.
This theme of living life while I can didn’t stop with the conversation I was having with my grandmother. While at my childhood church recently, I was greeted with juicy hugs and kisses from a group of my mother’s friends. They offered up the very same words of wisdom. They each stated, “I always said I would travel and do stuff when I retired. Now, I don’t feel like paying to go sit in a hotel room. It’s not like I can do the stuff I want to do anyway because I’ve got health issues and other stuff going on.” The chatter amongst them all lead back to what my grandmother said, “Y’all keep having fun and living.”
I think we have a tendency to put measures in our lives that we may never live up to. Health issues don’t always arise in our retirement phase. They can come in our youth. Financial issues don’t always resolve in our retirement phase. You can work hard and have huge savings and be drained of every drop by a random phenomenon. I’m not eliciting this information to tell you to be young, wild and free. I’m just saying, live a little and try not to worry so much about these boundaries that can potentially set you up for retirement. You aren’t promised that you’ll see it!
Life does not stop for any of us. People often say to me, “You’re so busy.” And I am. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know that in order to live smart and the way I want to, I have to adjust to the measures on my life and still live! So for now, that looks like me going to work most hours throughout the week, dedicating gym time to myself, a chunk of time to my husband, time for God and offering up segments to family and friends here an there. We all have to report to situations that we don’t feel as connected or enthused about, i.e. work. However, you’ve got to learn to work around that and still live. Sometimes, I even have to say no to obligations in order to live more for myself!
Thereof, plan accordingly and still live your best life! That’s how you make it work and as my mom always says, “Keep living!”