21 Unvarnished Truths About Retirement

Six years ago, at 50, I took early retirement, sold almost everything I owned and began traveling the world. I had been living a good life but longed for something more. My passions have always been travel, photography and writing, so I decided to take a calculated risk and create a new life on “the road less traveled.”

Hunter S. Thompson said it better than I ever could: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” I am fortunate to have done many extraordinary things since I retired, but none of them would have happened had I not dared to take a few tentative first steps and begin to live differently.

Life still holds many more lessons for me. I have probably missed some stuff and gotten a few things wrong, but I have been paying attention. Here are 21 things I’ve learned since I retired; maybe they’ll help you in your retirement:

We ain’t gettin’ out of this alive. With retirement, you have more time to do things you love, but the extra time is wasted unless you are using it productively and actually living your dreams. The road doesn’t go on forever.

In the end, we are all dead. Make that phone call or send an email to let someone know you are thinking of him or her. Better yet, go visit. Mend fences, hug, show appreciation, be kind to people. Don’t be complacent; you never know when the people you thought would be there forever will be gone.

Money is overrated. Money is a tool. To see it as anything else is folly. Yes, we all need some, but money is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Spend wisely and remember; superfluous wealth only buys superfluities.

Time is your most valuable asset. You only get so much, and that is it. You can’t horde it. You can’t get it back. You can’t turn back the clock. The best you can do is to start investing your time wisely.

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