During the holiday season I tend to get asked a lot by well meaning people: what do you want? So I prepare for the question by working on a ‘wish list’ over the last several months prior. Months? Yes, making a ten item list takes me months now because of a very simple reason: I already own just about anything I could really want from a store.
When I was a kid, I used to think that older people were nuts for saying: I really don’t want anything. Now that I’m a bit older myself I actually understand that a LOT better. After earning a good income for a number of years and having a lot of saving the reality is the phrase ‘I can’t afford that’ is laughable. Now understand that a good life really isn’t about the stuff anyway. So buying everything that you may passingly think about wanting is rather pointless. Most of the stuff you won’t really use or like anyway, so why bother getting it all in the first place. Hence, figuring out a few items I really do want to own takes some time since I need to determine if this is a passing want like I could go for a doughnut right now or something I really could use like a new tie since my oldest one is starting to fall apart after 20 years of use.
Then after watching a few Christmas shows you really do get it hammered home that it really isn’t about the stuff anyway. What do I really enjoy about Christmas? Visiting with friends and family, eating a good meal together, and doing activities as a family. Most of that doesn’t actually cost a lot. After all sledding is largely free after the initial purchase of the sled.
So while everyone sort of gets this, I find it funny we don’t extrapolate the idea to your retirement dreams. Why does your retirement ideal consist of travel for six months of the year? Do you really want to own three different properties (a city house, summer lake home and a winter getaway)? Do you think getting every possible want in your head is going to make your retirement that great? Come on. Just think about your yearly reminder that getting everything you want under the tree doesn’t make you happy in the long run.
No the harder question is what do you really want to do with all the time in retirement? Do you want to start a small business? Do you want to help others in some way? Do you want to turn your current hobby into a part time job? What do you really want out of your life? Those shouldn’t be easy questions to answer, but at the same time allowing yourself the time to figure that out is a good investment of your time.
For me, I’ve always wanted to write novels. I actually keep trying to draft them even if I don’t have any of them published yet. I know I won’t make much money doing it, but I love telling stories so that is what I want. I also know that trying to do that is going to take a significant amount of time (like five years) to get okay at doing it. So that is why I’m going after early retirement. I’m going after an old dream of mine which may turn out to be a failure and not sell many books, but I don’t really care. The point is I’m going to try and live a dream and that a worthy want for me to go after.
Writing novels may not be for worthy want for you and that is okay too. Yet we all have our wants…perhaps it’s time we start looking past the stuff to those wider and harder dreams to fulfill. It can be something odd, or something that is kind of pointless to most of the world, but if you really love it, who cares? It’s your dream, no said it had to be approved by others. So take some time to figure out what you really want in life. You just might realize you can start working on that today rather than putting it off for 20 years. After all, I’ve already finished the first draft of five different novels over the years and I’m not even retired yet.
So what do you want that doesn’t come from a store?