Most of us wish we had more time. We might say to ourselves that when we have more time – when our jobs slow down, when the kids are out of the house, when we retire – we’ll then finally be able to pursue our interests and fulfill our dreams, spending time in ways we truly enjoy.
Enjoy Life Today
I propose that we don’t have to wait – and that our lives will be better if we do the things we enjoy throughout our lives rather than wishing for some future state when our lives are simple and full of free time. Because we don’t know how much time we have and because life doesn’t stop bringing challenges once we reach retirement. Instead, we should live life intentionally each day.
Additionally, we won’t magically have the motivation or skills to work on the things we put off until retirement, so we should start to create the habits, hone the skills, and enjoy the process now – essentially, starting to retire today.
- If you wish you had time to write, start a blog. Commit to publishing at least once a month or set aside one hour every week to write. Take a writing course. Keep a notebook and pen with you at all times, so you can write whenever you find yourself with a few free minutes.
- If you want to learn to cook, take a class. Stop going out to eat and practice preparing meals at home instead. Utilize free tools like cooking blogs and YouTube videos.
- If you wish you could volunteer regularly, start to volunteer now. Schedule an hour to volunteer once a month. It takes time to find an organization that needs your time and fits with your schedule and then to go through their application process. Start finding the right fit today.
- If you want to read more often, exchange one episode of television every other day for reading one chapter of a book.
- If you picture a retirement filled with skiing, use the vacation days you do have to ski. If you can work remotely, work in a ski town for a month every winter. When you find a town you love, look for work and consider moving there year-round. If you live in a place close to skiing but aren’t getting out enough, find a weekend job at the resort.
General Principles and Ideas to Get You Started
- You don’t have to be paid for something to do it or say you do it.
- If you wish you were a movie critic, you can watch movies and blog about them. No permission needed.
- If you write, you’re a writer. If you play basketball, you’re a basketball player.
- You don’t have to be all-in on a new hobby to get started.
- To get into tennis, you don’t need private lessons, seven tennis outfits, a new racket, and a membership at a country club. Borrow a racket and find an outdoor court in your town.
- Use your vacation days and weekends to explore hobbies, interests, skills, and places you are interested in.
- Even with two weeks of vacation a year, some company holidays, and regular weekends off, that’s at least 120 days per year when you aren’t working!
- You won’t know how much time you want to spend doing something until you try.
- Maybe you do want to live at the beach year-round or maybe you’d prefer to spend one month there every summer.
- It’s better to try something first, before committing your time and money, only to find you don’t want to do it regularly – especially when planning for retirement.
- Schedule time.
- 30-minutes a week is better than nothing for something you say you wish you could do. (If you don’t want to do it for even 30-minutes, maybe it’s not the right hobby.)
- Learn to say no, minimizing tasks and social events you don’t enjoy in favor of things you love to do.
- If you do something regularly that you don’t enjoy, chances are you can do something to improve or even eliminate it.
- Evaluate trade-offs.
- You might decide to wake up earlier or give up less-fulfilling leisure activities for more meaningful, lasting hobbies.
- Maybe you don’t have time to find recipes, shop, and then cook meals every night, but if you do it all on Sunday maybe you do have the time. Or, perhaps utilizing a meal-kit service that provides the ingredients and recipes but allows you to cook them makes the most sense.
- Don’t underestimate practice.
- If you imagine writing a screenplay in retirement, you’re probably not going to knock it out of the park on your first try. Use the next several years to practice. If you practice for the next several years, you’ll discover how much you like the process and be even more prepared when you do have more time – or even more motivated to make more time now.
- Efficiently use your time.
- You might not have time or live in the right place to learn a new skill, such as scuba diving, but you can start to research the certification process, follow a diving blog, and create a savings and implementation plan for a trip you’ll take next year.
- You can more efficiently use time already accounted for by listening to podcasts at the gym, reading on your commute if you take public transportation, or writing while waiting to pick up your kids.
A Gratitude Mindset
Ultimately, it’s about making intentional changes so you can start to retire today, spending more time on the things you enjoy, want to pursue, and find fulfilling. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful for and pursue the opportunities we have today rather than focusing on the lack of resources keeping us from making forward progress.