We put a lot of emphasis on saving enough money for retirement, and rightly so. Money is important, but as I’ve said time and again, retirement is more than a math problem. One negative side effect of our obsession with our “number” is that we forget (or never decided) what we wanted all that money for in the first place. With that in mind, here are 5 things that are more important than (or at least just as important as) money to a happy, fulfilling retirement.
1. Health. Emerson once said, “The first wealth is health.” You don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy a nice walk on a beautiful day. Conversely, you can have millions, but if you’re constantly in pain or physically unable to do even simple things like walk up stairs or pick up your grandkids, then the options available to you during retirement will be small indeed.
2. Curiosity. Thomas Hobbes once said, “Curiosity is the lust of the mind.” Lust is an emotion or feeling of intense desire. Curiosity, therefore, is a lust to know “Why?” and “How?” It’s an intense desire to learn, explore and discover. It’s a passion to do and be. It’s an appetite for experiences and an interesting life. Money can’t buy that.
3. A willingness to act (a.k.a. Be intentional). Donald Miller once said, “If you happen to be sitting in the theater of your mind, watching through the camera lenses of your eyes and the story you’re watching isn’t very interesting, there’s something you can do about it. You can edit it. You can change it.” You are not a passenger on the plane of your life. You’re the pilot. Some initiative and a willingness to be proactive can often go a lot further than a few extra bucks in your bank account.
4. Relationships. David Rockefeller once said, “I am convinced that material things can contribute a lot to making one’s life pleasant, but, basically, if you do not have very good friends and relatives who matter to you, life will be really empty and sad and material things cease to be important.” I can’t add much to that.
5. Time. Carl Sandberg once said, “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.” Carnegie had more money than you. Kennedy had more power than you. Clark Gable (or Grace Kelly) was better looking than you. Elvis was more popular than you. Shackleton had a more adventurous life than you. Would you trade places with any of them? No, because they ran out of the one commodity that makes any of those things worthwhile: Time. Time is your most important asset, but you have less of it now than when you started reading this article. It is your only asset that never grows. Use it wisely.
Photo by Nick Kelly