The following article is by Kristi Muse, our staff writer. She is a great freelance writer, blogger, police officer’s wife, and stay at home mom of two.
As I was sitting at my computer, trying to think of something to write worth reading, I kept staring down at a fortune from a fortune cookie that I have taped to my laptop. Rarely do cookie fortunes resonate so deeply that I feel the need to hold onto them indefinitely, but this one just clicked with me.
It says, “There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning, and yearning.” It spoke to everything that I believe is important in life, which is why I decided to hang onto to it for motivation. When I’m feeling stressed out with my work, my fortune helps me to put things in perspective and refocus my goals.
If you want to live a good life, never stop learning, earning, or yearning. These three elements are what shape our character and guide our life choices. Without a balance of the three, you’ll lead a decent life, but not the best life you could lead.
These three factors, learning, earning, and yearning, are key to living a good life, both as we strive for early retirement and financial independence and once we reach it.
If you want to have a good life, never stop learning. Unfortunately, too many of us set our books down after college and don’t pick them up again. Between the stresses of work and family it can be hard to find time to read a book, take a class, or go about learning anything new. I know I don’t get enough time to read all of the books that I would like to read. Try not to sell yourself short in the prime of your life. Make time and set aside money so that you can actively pursue learning more about your interests and hobbies.
On the same token, you’re never old enough that you have to stop learning. Don’t listen to the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Retirement is the perfect opportunity to learn more about a new skill or subject. Take Nola Ochs, for example. Not hampered by her age, she received her master’s degree at 98 years old.
Use your new free time to pursue the things that matter to you, the things that you kept setting aside over the course of your working life. You can finally take a master art class, learn how to sail a boat, or take up Tai Chi. The earlier you retire the longer you will have to pursue learning in retirement.
Earning is an important element of a healthy and happy lifestyle. It’s important to earn and save enough for retirement that you don’t have to worry about your quality of life downgrading once you retire, but you want to make sure that you’re not overworking yourself to the point of being miserable.
Another option is, like Joe, to build a life you don’t have to retire from. Once it’s financially possible, consider working part time instead of waiting for traditional retirement. More and more retired people are going back to work part time during retirement, and it has amazing benefits overall for their life during retirement.
People who choose to continue earning a paycheck during retirement are physically healthier and mentally better off than people who call it quits and just survive off of a pension check every month. According to a report done by Carol Graham of the Brookings Institution, “Voluntary part-time workers have more life satisfaction and less stress and are more satisfied with their jobs than full-time workers.”
Part-time work gives the retiree the satisfaction of a paycheck, a purpose to their daily life, and reason to get out of bed in the morning. Having the ability to choose flexible or part time work hours, “can enhance well-being—which is linked to better health and higher productivity—and also reduce unemployment and pension burdens.”
Can you be happy without ambition? Retirement is the main ambition of working people. So what happens when you achieve what you worked so hard for? You need to make sure that you’ll have something to continue to look forward to once you reach your financial and retirement goals.
Yearning, that soul deep ache to accomplish something, is the driving force that keeps many of us going. Depression is a very real possibility if you spend your whole life yearning for retirement but have no ambition or goals past that end line.
Joe recently posted about contentment being the enemy of progress. Contentment and ambition are not mutually exclusive. You can be happy without ambition and still yearn for more. Whether it’s yearning to travel to a new country, learn a new skill, or spend more time with family, always have something that you can focus on.
Find balance in both life and retirement
Remember that life isn’t only about preparing for retirement, and life doesn’t end at retirement. Don’t be miserable now to enjoy your life later, but don’t enjoy life so much now that you aren’t prepared for retirement. To have a good life, don’t ever stop learning, earning, or yearning, now or in your retirement years. These elements are just as important to a good life after our core working years as they are during them.
Image credit: by jovike
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.
Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.