By Gord Riddell & Kathy Ryndak
It is that time of year again when we are inundated with ad campaigns about where and how to invest our money, especially for our retirement. All the emphasis on getting older and post work life targets how much money we will have. It is really just an extension of how much money we make and how much money we have invested or put away as a way of measuring whether we have made it or not. Of course that measurement is in other peoples' eyes and is determined by those in the financial industry and we as a society buy into their system of measurement.
Now not to say that there is not some truth in what they say but it is very incomplete as a measurement of either one's present or future contentedness and real worth as a human being. To feel content and worthwhile with our lives we need to invest in much, much more than money. In fact many people would not even factor it into an equation for being happy and content. Those people have invested in very different parts of their life; money was only a by-product, if it was even all that present.
The one part that the financial industry does have right is that if you wish to have a successful future, you have to start today to invest in it and the sooner you start, the easier it will be. Our future is determined by today, what we put into the present. The future cannot be what you may envision it to be when you get to it because we never do anything to prepare for it. It requires awareness and planning that begin today. Our future will become our present one day.
How do you see your life in the future? What is it like today? Remember that today is the building block of your future, if today is very different than what you envision your future to be, then you have a lot of work to do to reconcile those differences. They do not just go away. Even if you retired and stopped working today, the way you live your life and the attitudes and beliefs you have will just simply transfer in a small amount of time to what you thought would be your future. The only way to your future is to sort through your present day and begin to make changes, develop a plan and hold the vision for your future. Please note, you have to DO something about it, it will not just take care of itself. That is a form of avoidance and procrastination.
Things to invest in today
- Balance- Finding a balance between your work life and your personal life. It may be nice to be and feel busy all the time but at what cost. We all need time to work and we all need time to play and regenerate. If work is the most important aspect of your life most of the time, perhaps there are other things in your life that you do not wish to take a look at, feel or come to terms with. While the idea of perfect balance during our working years is a bit of a myth as today's demanding businesses require so much of our time, there are things we can do to feel more balanced. We need to look at what we can do today to ensure we have activities that are energy enhancing and regenerating for our self.
- Invest in your Health- Money may buy lots of things but it does not buy health nor does it restore poor health. There are many clichés about ageing and health and they are all true. Putting some effort into your health and diet today will pay enormous dividends as to the quality of life you experience in the future and to say nothing of having a lot more energy today.
- Reduce stress- In line with investing in your health, stress is the great poison of the modern world. Most of us are so stressed we have come to believe that this is our natural state. Stress does not become less on its own. We need to first recognize it and then take steps to reduce the sources of it in our life. Stress de-energizes, de-motivates and wreaks havoc on our physical, emotional and spiritual health. It is hard to think of planning for tomorrow when we are unsure of whether we have enough energy to get through today.
- Invest in your family and friends- People who we love and enjoy spending time with energize us and often give much more to us than we may give back. They are truly one of our biggest assets. It takes time and effort to cultivate long term relationships be they lover, friend or family. Most of us take our relationships for granted. Really not much more different than taking everything else like our health for granted. It is not until they are no longer in our life for whatever reason that we realize how important they were to us. Rarely has anyone ever left this planet wishing they had spent more time at work, the regret is they did not spend more quality time with the people who tried to love them.
- Discover your passions- Investing time now to discover the things you are passionate about will help to steer you toward how to enjoyably spend your time in the future. We are all passionate about something or perhaps a number of things, things that excite and motivate us. Perhaps it is helping others, children, working with animals, writing, visual arts or singing. The important thing is to discover those things that do motivate and inspire you. Learn about them and begin to put time into developing your skills and interests. Much has been written about pursuing your passions and the money will follow. Those things we are passionate about become part of our life; they do not feel like work or something we have to do. They could well be our next career!!
- Have a plan- Invest your time and resources now in developing a plan for your life. Just like in financial circles where having a financial plan is held to be crucial, so is having a plan for your life. Map out where you would like your life to go and the steps necessary to get there. Be realistic and ensure you have concentrated on your passions. The longer you put off having a plan the more likely it is you will arrive at your tomorrow singing the Peggy Lee song "Is that all there is?"
Investing your time, money and energy into today as a preparation for tomorrow will pay off in very rewarding dividends. Self-contentment, motivation, energy, joy, a sense of accomplishment and worth are things money does not buy. They come only from what you do. This is in each and every one of our own hands to have the kind of life we may only dream of but have never dared risk its reality. If we do nothing, we will get nothing. The universe only gives to us as much energy as we are willing to give. It is one of the basic tenets of co-creation. How much are you willing to invest in your self and the world around you?