I wrote my first book “The Freedom Project: Travel” as a response to the many people I met in art events, galleries and markets that looked at my pictures and commented on how they always would have wanted to go to Paris, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Amsterdam, New York, or any other of the many destinations I have already visited.
My question “so why don’t you” was often answered with a laundry list of reasons as to why it was impossible to go: jobs, finances, family, parents, children, or the very popular “we’re saving that for retirement”. Especially the last one makes the underlying excuse sound like a carefully planned decision. In some way or another, many of us are stuck on the “deferred life plan”: someday I’ll travel, walk on the beach or play golf every day. The hard reality is that you might not make it until retirement. We all hope to live long and happy lives in good health, but with the unhealthy and fast-paced lifestyle we’ve created for ourselves the question of whether we’re going to live long enough to reap the rewards later becomes an important one.
In the end, most of those “reasons” we hold on to are just excuses to keep us within the safe confines of our comfort zone. What we fail to realize, is that all the things we really want in life, are readily available just outside that comfort zone. Traveling to Paris, or New York, is just as simple as going out and doing it. Buy a ticket, or get yourself a free ticket with the help of my book. I’ve done it many times. Once I overcame the hurdle of getting to a destination, I could make my trip as cheap or expensive as my budget allowed. On my very first trip to New York City, I pretty much ate exclusively in food courts because that was all I could afford. I love food courts, so I was ok with that. The main thing for me was getting to where I wanted to be and being in New York.
I know a few people very close to me who retired recently, and have struggled with that retirement in some way or another. The struggle is never about having so much time to themselves that they don’t know what to do with it. That feeling might be there immediately after retirement but quickly changes, often in a matter of days, into a question as to how they’re going to get everything done that was on the “deferred life plan” list before their time on this planet runs out. For that reason I’ve given up on the idea of retirement. If you’re doing what you love, the need to retire is no longer there. I left full time corporate employment somewhere in my twenties, and even though I have picked up some temporary consulting contracts and odd jobs along the way, I’ve never looked back. Those jobs were to establish a bit more cash flow into my company and were a means to an end, a way to contribute towards my bigger goals of living a meaningful life in alignment with my passions. If you give up on all those excuses you don’t need retirement anymore. It doesn’t matter whether I say I’ll never retire since I love what I’m doing, or say I’ve already been retired since my twenties. It’s all the same. I’m living my life today, right here, right now, with no regrets and no excuses.
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I’m living my life today, right here, right now, with no regrets and no excuses.