What are you waiting for? Permission? Extra time? Enough money?
What’s holding you back? Fear? Laziness? Uncertainty?
I’ve struggled with all of those things at one time or another. In fact, I’m struggling with most of them right now as we get ready to head out on our first mini-retirement (update on that next week).
But here’s the thing. The time will never be “right.” The conditions will never be “perfect.” The things holding us back will never magically align and start flashing a giant green light.
The road less traveled will never be safe, risk free or totally clear. Sometimes you just need to go. To try. To step out and take a chance. If you don’t, that chance will vanish. “To wait” has a funny way of becoming “too late.”
When that happens, you’ll no longer have something trivial like money or fear holding you back. It will be something much harder to overcome, like your health or some other door that was once wide open only to slam shut.
So don’t wait. Your life and opportunities won’t go on forever. Someday it will be “too late.” That realization should cause you to live with a sense of urgency and to focus on the people, issues and goals that are important to you. Time will rush on. What will you do to make the most of it? What will you do to live a meaningful life and leave the world a better place?
“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex.”
~ Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia
Minimalism and a Meaningful Retirement
I recently sat down for a conversation with Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist to discuss how we can simplify our lives in order to better focus on what’s important. What prompted the conversation?
I have often joked that my life resembles a Rube Goldberg machine. It gets results—food on the table, work done, semi-regular exercise, etc.—but often only after a complex and convoluted series of steps.
As you can imagine, this sometimes creates no small amount of cognitive dissonance as I try to hold the contradictory ideas of living an intentional, meaningful life while constantly struggling with busyness and complication.
I’m guessing some of you are dealing with the same problem. I don’t want retirement (or life in general) to look like the equivalent of a cluttered junk drawer, so I reached out to Joshua to get his thoughts on how minimalism can help deal with the problem. He defines minimalism like this:
“Minimalism is the promotion of things I most value and the removal of everything that distracts me from it.”
So it’s not necessarily about how many shirts you have or how big your house is. It’s about defining what’s important to you and what isn’t. Then you ruthlessly cut the latter in order to create space, time and money for the former. It’s about becoming a minimalist in the things that don’t matter so you can become a maximalist in the things that do.
What are some practical ways to do that? What are the benefits? How can we simplify life, minimize stress, and focus on what we really want out of life? Answers to those questions and more are in my interview with Joshua. You can either listen to it using the player below or, if you’d prefer, I’ve attached a PDF transcript as well. [Note: If you’re reading this in an email, you may need to view the post online in order to use the media player.]
After listening, spend a few minutes thinking about ways to clear the clutter from key areas of your own life. Your possessions are an obvious place to start, but don’t forget things like your work, relationships, obligations, finances and goals.
I’ll write more about how to simplify life in retirement in future posts, but until then, you may want to check out these articles on Joshua’s blog…