My car’s air conditioning needed to be looked at the other day, summer is coming and the temperatures are going to be going up to about 28 Celsius this week (82 for you MareKans). So I thought I’d take it and get it done. The shop I went to is owned by a guy I went to school with from grade 2 to 8. Turns out he had no idea who I was. It just goes to show you.
Anyhow we got to talking and since we lived through some of the same events and had a few friends in common I got to catch up on a little news. We talked about work and I told him that my wife and I retired last July.
“Are you the same age as me?” he asked.
“Ya, I’m 53 this year.” I said.
“You did way better than me.” he replied.
I found it odd that he’d say that. After all, I looked around and saw that he had a huge garage with four bays, the building was in a great location and he was booked solid for a while. I had called in the morning to book an appointment and was lucky to get in due to a cancellation.
From what I could tell he was doing more than fine. His kids were doing well, he had what seemed like a long happy marriage, he was doing some renovations on his house, he was going out hunting once in a while, he had a cottage/campground he liked to go to and so on and so forth. It looked like he had it all.
So, why did he think that I was doing better than he was? Was it because I was retired? I told him I have a friend who worked 12-16 hour days, can sleep four hours a night and when he gets up he’s ready to go. He was alway full of energy and would be happy to work 24 hours a day if he could go without sleep. He loves what he’s doing and doesn’t consider what he does work.
Turns out, my old classmate has been doing the same thing for about 40 years. “I used to love doing this. Now, it’s just the same thing, day in and day out.”
He talked about being exhausted at the end of the day and not really finding any joy in his career. He mentioned having to “do this” another 15 years before he could retire. He didn’t seem very happy about it.
My reflexes kicked in and I said, “It’s all about goal setting.” I mentioned my Z to A blog and that was about it.
He fixed my car, we fist pumped and I told him it was nice to catch up on our mutual acquaintances and I left. (I do have to return in two weeks for a check up to make sure all is well.)
As I tend to do, I mulled over our conversation and thought about what he’d said. And I got to thinking… what was it that he loved about the work in the past and why didn’t he love it anymore in the present? What kind of changes could he make to bring the passion back? What was he not seeing today that could bring him joy tomorrow?
Of course there is a good chance that he could retire in the next year or so, if he wanted to. I’m guessing that he probably didn’t have a plan for retirement. Does he know what his F.I. number (financial independence number) is? I doubt it. How often does he talk with his wife about retirement? What do they want to do? What would their lives look like in the future?
Again it hit me… here’s a smart guy, running a very successful business with no idea of what retirement was going to be. His dad retired at 65 and he would do the same.
I’m going back in two weeks and I’m going to offer some advice and hopefully help his future self. I found over the past few years that it takes a while for people to accept advice on retirement. When I was working full time and building my path to retirement, most people I worked with didn’t understand or didn’t care or didn’t believe that it was possible.
People get stuck in their thought paradigms; they don’t want to admit they don’t know something or that there is an alternative to whatever it is…
I love being wrong and learning new things. This doesn’t mean that I “like” being wrong. Sometimes being wrong can cost you money and losing money is never fun, at least not for me. But, mistakes make you stronger if you can take a step back and look at what happened. I’m still making mistakes. As a matter of fact I made one this morning. (“Take a deep breath and think about what you learned”) I say to myself.
Anyhow… the take away today is to look at things differently or from another perspective. Break down your life into little chewable pieces. Are there things that you used to love and no longer love? Dig in and look into why that is. The more often you do, the better you’ll get at it and the more happiness you’ll be able to bring into your life and the lives of those around you.