Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Today’s post topic is brought to you by a meme that I came across, one that touched me rather deeply. It read, “You’re scared to start a 4year [sic] course because you’re 28 and by the time you finish [sic] you’ll be 32. Wether [sic] you take the course or not, in 4years [sic] you’ll still be 32. So why not be 32 doing something you love?”
Wow. What an amazing sentiment. Time doesn’t stop and wait for you to catch up; it marches on, inexorably to our ultimate doom. We cannot stop it. Our choice, then, is to look backwards at our past or forwards to the future.
There’s nothing we can do about our past. I think that most people look to the past with disappointment and regret. God knows that I do. Some of us regret things we’ve done, but I know that many of us look with regret at what we did not do. Maybe we didn’t go to college or didn’t take a job. I regret lost loves, opportunities I didn’t take that I blame for being alone even today. Some of us actually look to the past with pride, although this is honestly just as sad. To look to the past with pride means to regret what no longer is. Honestly, the only way that I know of where we can look to the past in a manner that is not simply sad is if we look to our lessons.
The future, on the other hand, we can do something about. We cannot change anything in our past, but we can look forward. As this meme points out, we are going to be older whether we are ready or not, so now is the time to plan for the future that we want. Our past, our regrets, our mistakes make no impact on the future, but our actions can.
I should have planned for my financial future. Of that there is no doubt. By now I should have more than enough money to live comfortably for the remainder of my life, and when I first started my career, I had planned to do just that. Instead, I learned that I lacked the discipline in my youth to maintain that effort and working for a system that did have a retirement benefit I should still have that. Unfortunately, like an idiot, I gave it to a woman I thought would be my future.
But that’s the thing about the future. We really can’t know what will pass. When I gave her my retirement money, I thought it would be to pay off debts so we wouldn’t be burdened with them any longer, and for a new business that I had planned to start with her by my side. How was I to know that she would back out of the plan and keep the money for herself, and divorce me after doing so?
My regular readers probably know that, because of the loss of my father, I’m actually doing much better now. I’ve spent a large part of my inheritance getting out of debt and setting up a future where I can live inexpensively. What’s more, I’ve been investing money and now own stock, and doing quite well in fact. As of today, my investments have increased by 13%. Not bad for an amateur. My main stock has increased in value by over 45%. This is planning for the future, and at the age of 57 it might seem like folly, but it’s never too late. I’m trying to plan for a financial future where I can afford to eat and live. Maybe I’ll succeed, maybe I won’t, but I’m making the effort.
My recommendation is that you take a little time to think about your future. What is your future looking like in the direction it’s going? Do you like the picture it is painting? If so, all I can say is congratulations. If, like me, you want the picture of your future to be different from the direction it seems to be heading, then now is the time to do something about it. The question becomes what actions you can take today to make that future that you want more likely to occur. We cannot know if our actions will yield the results we hope, but we can improve the odds. If that future requires coursework, now is the time to start it, and the good news is that technical training is becoming more mainstream and acceptable. If starting a new career is what you need, it’s time to spruce up your resume. If, like me, it’s a financial future you want to brighten, find a way to invest money, or buy into a retirement plan, or bring more money in with a better paying or additional job. You can do this. WE can do this. It’s time to get started on our future.