It never stops. As long as we are living, you will never truly reach that place where you can say “I’ve made it”. There will never be a point where you have everything taken care of, and after you reach this point you can just coast for the rest of your life because the challenge is over.
This is one of the main reasons I have a problem with the whole concept of “retirement”. It traps people in the mindset that if they work until a certain age, they are done. Society does not help this line of thought, because they give benefits to people once they reach this certain age, reinforcing them for quitting. Certain studies show that your risk of death after retirement increases substantially. I believe it’s because there is a lack of purpose and a lack of goals.
Wells and I speak about goals a lot and how important they are, because they give your mind and body a sense of purpose, something to work for. When you have no goals, no direction to head in, nothing to improve upon or move towards, you literally have nothing to live for. You are going to spend your days managing and coping with the various impulses associated with the pain of existence. This is why you see retirees moving to florida so they can be near the beach, or see old men golfing all day long.
My father and grandfather have instilled this belief in me, both of whom say they will never retire, and always keep working. Otherwise, they both say they would go insane. My grandpa is in his mid seventies and is still killing it, making tons of money operating his business from home in Colorado, and he’s one of the toughest guys you’ll ever meet. (His motto is “When they kick you down on the ground and knock your teeth out, you gotta gum ‘em to death.)
On the flip side, there’s a restaurant near where my family lives, that used to have the best fried chicken. The owners sold the place because they were getting old and thought they’d like retirement. Since the sale, my family doesn’t go there anymore because it’s not quite the same. The quality has just gone down. But my mom and dad run into the owner’s a few months back. After some small talk, my dad asks the owner how he is enjoying retirement.
“I’m just waiting to die at this point.”
That restaurant, that they worked so hard to turn into a great fried chicken joint, gave these people purpose. They went to work, did what they loved, and made a living serving others. After they sold the business, that sense of purpose faded. There was no goal, no direction, nothing to improve in life.
There’s always another level
I believe that life is a never ending process of improvement and growing until you reach the next level. And when you do reach that next level, there is always another way to improve and grow. Another level to reach.
There are a lot of people out there who say they want to make millions of dollars so that they never have to work again. In most cases, the people who go out and make their millions enjoy this new level of wealth and success for a while, but then they get used to it. All they are doing is sitting around, using their money to soothe their daily discomforts and pamper themselves. At some point you just get cabin fever without a larger goal to work towards.
What gave them purpose and excitement in life was the idea of reaching and enjoying the next level. It’s absolutely important to stop and smell the roses, especially after a huge life victory like making it to the next level financially, but if you stay there, your life will not stay rosy for long. You’re just going to get used to it.
Human beings adapt so quickly to whatever environment they are in. They need uncertainty, variety, and stimulation in their lives. They need something to move towards that will provide new challenges to overcome, excited them, and push them to think and act in new ways. This is the never ending process of growth.
Once you reach your goal, you need to set another goal immediately. Otherwise, you will find yourself becoming very unhappy very fast.
Never Ending Improvement
It may seem a bit depressing at first to think that you will never reach that point where you can just relax and all of your needs are taken care of. But take joy in the fact that realizing this vital truth frees you from a delusion so many people suffer from. Instead of working to achieve something that will never come true, embrace this as an adventure.
Life is a true gift to us, and when you look at it this way, there will always be something new to excite us, a new direction to improve upon, a new way to look at things, and a new adventure to have with new people.