Today I learnt the sad news that a local person in my community, who used to work on my car, has died. I don’t know if it was a result of coronavirus but he was certainly younger than me and I liked him a lot. I don’t know about you, but when someone I know dies, especially when I’m older than them, it hits me hard and makes me think.
I find it amazing that so many of us live our lives with the assumption that they’re going to be long and healthy ones, when in reality we have absolutely no idea.
Having lost one of my best friends to cancer when he was just 33, you would think I’d have learnt that lesson a long time ago; and yet I feel I’m still guilty of lacking the daily discipline and consistency which I know would lead to a better and more satisfying life.
Not that I’m complaining about the life I’ve been living, because I’ve understood for a long time that, as Wayne Dyer used to say, there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way. But, if I’m only going to live this life, in this time, once, then I want to make the most of it. And if I happen to live long enough to have more regrets than the few I already have now, I don’t want any of them to be for things I didn’t do.
Writing this at the age of 50, in the middle of a coronavirus lockdown, I have a significant amount of money invested in stocks and shares in ISAs and in my various pension pots, so my net worth right now has really taken a hit. And, realistically, there are only two things I can do to turn the situation around…
- Live at least another 10 years to see my investments rise again (which, as history has shown, they inevitably will), or
- Increase the amount of money I earn.
Now the first scenario I have little control over – that said, I can at least increase my chances by living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding senseless life-threatening behaviour.
But the second option I have a lot more control over – and that’s down to me being focused and disciplined and willing to put in the work.
These two things aside, it’s important for us all to remember that every year we get older increases the risk of us either dying or developing some kind of chronic health issue which may prevent us from doing some of the things we can still do right now if we wanted to.
As Denzel Washington and many other people have said in the past, you never see a removal van following a hearse. We can’t take our money and possessions with us when we die, so we shouldn’t make the mistake of saving it all up over the years, without using at least some of it to create special memories.
There’s another good reason for this… As much as we change over time, so does the world.
Places that used to be quaint and quiet become busy, built-up tourist hotspots. Tragedies and people’s actions mean that there are places we can’t visit anymore more and things we can’t do. For example, the Twin Towers in New York no longer exist and many people say that the city has never been the same since 9/11. The famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is being restored but it will never be the original building it was before the fire that destroyed it in 2019. And people are now no longer allowed to climb Ayers Rock in Australia because the authorities there want to preserve it.
Let me ask you a question. How many of you have ever regretted the money you paid for a treasured memory?
I’ve taken my Mother to Wimbledon; I’ve seen the Rolling Stones up-close in concert; I’ve witnessed the buzz of the Olympic Stadium in London in 2012. All of these things cost me more money at the time then I wanted to pay. But now, looking back, they are priceless cherished memories that I can relive over and over again and don’t regret paying a single penny for.
And yes I get that there are people, including me, who have spent good money for an experience that has turned out to be, at best, less than they’d hoped for and, at worst, a complete disaster. But this is what taking the risk to LIVE is all about, right? Highs and lows, winning some and losing some, learning from experience. Otherwise, what’s the point?
It’s true that most of us can’t afford to see and do all of the things we’d like to do in life. But I believe it’s important for us to pick and choose a few big ones and do them from time to time; even if that means saving up to do something once every few years.
Otherwise, I can guarantee this… we will either die before we did some of the things we were planning to do, perhaps leaving loved ones to regret that we didn’t do them together; or, if we’re lucky enough to live a long and healthy life, we will have no significant events or achievements to look back on.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t save for our future; that’s still important. I’m just saying make sure your ‘future’ includes milestones and events along the way that aren’t too far away from now.
Because none of us knows when our, or our loved-ones’ time is going to be up.