According to Wikipedia, the average age for an American male is 77.5 years old, and females live longer to be 82.1. I also read on some random website that the average age of retirement is 63.
Now, you can do whatever you want with those numbers. For example, you can if you’re a male, ask the ladies how they do it, or you can ask yourself what you’re going to do with 14.5 years of retirement (or 19.1 years for females). Granted, this is while pretending we’re going to die at the average age.
Wait. I like that word “pretend”. As a matter of fact, a lot of us LOVE the word “pretend”. I’m basing this conclusion on both my interpretations, and what I’ve heard from individuals I have conversed with in the past.
1. We pretend we are going to live until retirement.
2. We pretend that we will be fit and able to do things in retirement.
3. We pretend that we’ll have enough money to do things in retirement.
4. We pretend that the world is going to be here by the time we retire..
The world is a crazy place but honestly, the craziest part tends to be within your own mind. Your brain has so much power, so you’re probably better off harnessing the positivity of it, and really take advantage of life right now.
Let’s take a look at the list of “pretends” I spoke of a moment ago.
1. If you are below retirement age, I can almost guarantee that you know someone who left this world too early. I personally have too many friends who have already passed away. You could have been that person, but you weren’t. Cherish today.
2. A lot of people enter their “golden years” on disability or need to have some body part replaced because their body is breaking down from years of living/labor/whatever. For many elderly individuals, it’s tough walking to the bathroom, not to mention hiking that mountain, or walking the streets of (insert your dream city/town here). Your actual golden years are now. Whatever your age may be, they’re now. I say this because this is the richest you’ll ever be. You’ll never be this young again, and you’re not guaranteed another birthday.
3. Haha, money. Capitalism. Taxes. Life. Everything is so complicated. We work our whole life very hard in order to get to that “end all” vacation. We’ll bust our rump at this job we hate in order to be rich. We’ll sacrifice our time to get ahead, but we never do. “Another day, another dollar” is a terrible saying. That day shouldn’t be set aside just to earn that dollar. Let’s look at reality. I have read countless headlines about how retirees don’t have enough saved for retirement, and social security isn’t going to cut it. Or people who saved every single penny their whole life end up having too much at the end and the government takes a large chunk through taxes after they die. So essentially, you’re going to be poor later on (bummer) or rich at the end (but physically incapable of following your dreams), so just try to have fun with what you have. Spend your money on experiences and not material items because in the end, it’s about what you did, and not what you owned. Spend it while you’re young (Within reason).
4. Will the world be here when we retire? Many say “obviously”, but honestly, with all this nuclear bomb talk, we can’t be too sure. Live life to the fullest before our political leaders do something stupid and get us bombed.. just saying.
Do you enjoy games?
Let’s play a game! Honestly, I love games so here’s one for ya; it’s called “Let’s Stop Pretending”. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to your loved ones. Both of whom want nothing more than you to be happy.
I used to be more intense than I currently am on this topic. I used to have the mindset of “I could die tomorrow, so live today to the max”.. well duh. Obviously you can die tomorrow, or you can die today for that matter, but I’m not here to stress you or myself out. That’s just too much pressure! Imagine this going through your head: “I really want to watch the movie Goodwill Hunting because I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Unfortunately, I can’t do that because I don’t want to be watching a movie on my last day of being alive”. Too much right? That’s why I came up with a different idea.
Now, what does the title of this post mean?
Welcome to my “One Year Plan”. This idea assumes that I’ll die 365 days from today. Lot less pressure, happier you. It allows me to watch Goodwill Hunting tonight without biting my nails excessively because of a self created time crunch.
Flashback to my 21st birthday. I was surrounded by great friends, and I was really happy. That birthday of mine triggered an idea of reflection on that past year. Being a November baby, I’m not talking about when the calendar year started, but all the way back to when I turned 20.
Sidenote: never take your family or friends for granted.
Reflection is magical, and I could write a whole post about it by itself, but I just want to differentiate this idea with the concept of New Year’s resolutions. The key is positive reflection and it is a very powerful thing. Remember when I said to use your brain for positivity? I need you use it now to understand my reasoning.
New year’s resolutions focus on what you don’t have. “I’m not fit, I need to exercise”, or “I am unhealthy because I smoke cigarettes so I need to stop” or “I don’t spend enough time with my kids, I need to appreciate them more”.. these all reflect the things you have done wrong and when compiled together, it’s daunting and can be overwhelming. It’s good to acknowledge where you can grow, but waiting until New Year’s to do it, isn’t the nicest thing you can do to yourself. Self reflect throughout the year and constantly strive to grow, one little thing at a time. New Year’s resolutions may work for some, but not for me.
Alternatively, once my birthday hits each year, I like to reflect on my accomplishments. Thinking about the things I was able to check off my imaginary bucket list. How many new experiences did I have? What made me laugh, smile, and cry from joy?
This simple mental switch has created a happier me. I reflect, and smile. It helps me think about the beautiful things I have done and created. It lengthens my years because it fills them with joy, variety, adventure and travel.
Disclaimer: This by no means is a tool to compare yourself to others, or your year to your past years. Both of which are toxic and should be avoided. Your story is not the same as others so you can’t healthily compare yourself to them and who you are now is a very different person from who you were a few years ago. You’re constantly evolving. Yup, don’t compare apples and oranges.
But.. how is imagining that I am going to die next year supposed to make me happier? It simply makes you aware that our time here is very much finite.
I love the short story that displays this very well: “A man asks his friend who is dying from cancer within 6 months ‘how does it feel to know you’re dying?’, in which the friend replies ‘how does it feel to think you’re not?'”
I was hitchhiking in Death Valley National Park, and I had a very nice conversation with the man who picked me up. One of the things he mentioned was “the only thing we really have is time”.
Time is our biggest asset. How will you spend yours?