The strategy: educate, enter, earn, invest and retire. It seems straight forward; proven in the effectiveness and outcome. But, oh, I’d say life is much less linear in its cause and effect. Everything has a cost. It’s just choosing how, what and when you want to pay for it.
The standard life trajectory cares little to address relationship. The only goal is to retain employment and best provide for self and family with the hopes of having a healthy retirement. Let me say that there is great worth in that BUT, and it’s a big one, our American ideals/ever increasing standard of living have possibly taken us far off track. We have replaced “want” with “need” and swapped activities with quality time.
We are most assuredly spending & investing but is it in the right things, at the right time?
Most anyone with a family agrees that time together is paramount. That isn’t a new thing. But now we buy our time together. Instead of simply valuing time together in all its often mundane beauty, we often entertain during time together. It literally costs us! In turn, the “need” for parents to work more and continue the climb, increases. It also eases our conscience as we provide fun for our kids without having to be part. (Answer those emails now!) And we concede to the general illusion that we must! There is no option. But is there?
For those of us that have little ones, you have between years 3–12 that they actually want to be with us without reservation. Before then, they are subconsciously building their foundation through care/nurture/needs being met but then it becomes conscious through communication and play. The requests for interaction are endless! You can’t bake, paint or throw balls enough with them. We often see it as an exhausting task but it’s only because our time is maxed out in other ways. We don’t have the desire, time or energy because we’re trying to build the “more important” framework to life at the same time. But what are we building for? Are we losing time with them to build more for the time when they’ll no longer be in your house or care to sit with you for more than a couple hours? It’s somewhat absurd when you give it considerable thought.
I fully realize there’s a balancing act! I’m well aware. Financial planning is real! Job security and promotions matter! But what would it look like if we intentionally and strategically invested in our family units during these critical 8–10 years? Could the common decisions we make, the common concessions, be seen for what they are and the room for margin in your time increases? Could the focus shift from the urgency to build our personal security to an urgency to maximize time with our family? Could we communicate better to our employers how we can fulfill their needs while maintaining our priorities? I think there’s a way.
It may mean a smaller house, fewer vacations/activities, cheaper cars and working til you’re 70 but isn’t that worth what you KNOW you have today? Because tomorrow, the traditional focus, is not promised! We somehow have fooled ourselves in borrowing from the freedom tomorrow supposedly will bring but in fact everything could change and does for many.
Be assured that to shift focus on investing time/resources into today goes FAR beyond simple emotional desire. It requires clear communication, firm understanding of your finances, understanding of your WHY, identifying core priorities and then how you make your money to meet very real needs. It is complex and often feels impossible when the journey begins! The cards seemed stacked against you because that’s how our American society is designed.
The machine only works if we feel like we must walk the path laid before us. But just like reaching the top of a mountain, there may be a well marked path but there are another thousand that lie in wait, still undiscovered. To find your way to the destination requires courage, knowledge and perseverance to step off the path to find a new one that you may be the first to mark.
And don’t read this as shaming those that find themselves on more traditional paths. That is not the purpose, but rather, it is to remind us that there’s always another way. It’s to help all of us see clearer when life can feel foggy and heavy. If you look at your family and children and ache for more time now, it’s time to act! That desire is real and true. No one has ever second guessed investing in their children and family. On the contrary, wanting more power and wealth are grand illusions that will fade and mean nothing on your death bed.
So maybe it’s time to borrow from your future and start spending today. Reconfigure that schedule. Align yourself with like minded employers. Trim the waste from your life that is working against you. Allow yourself time to plan. Believe in the mission and outcome! Call fear out . . . and as you take a walk with your little one or throw a football for the thousandth time, do so KNOWING it’s the right decision. It is true! These moments won’t last-
Our lives are not meant to build for our own pleasure. We ARE built to be in relationship; to invest courageously and to know the exponential dividends that are earned in return. Maybe it’s time to take a reverse mortgage on life . . . who’s in?