Don’t Get Old

“Don’t get old”. It’s a piece of advice my grandparents share with me almost every time I see them. As my grandpa takes my hand, he tells me that “Getting old is hell”. An former marine, now in his mid 80s, having the drive to do it all, but knowing that no matter how hard he tries, no matter how much his mind says “yes”, his body argues with a definitive “no”.

As we grow up, we’re enticed by the idea that after 30 or 40 years of hard work, we get to retire and enjoy our “golden years” traveling, playing golf, watching old John Wayne reruns, whatever we want.

Basically, it’s ingrained in our psyche, from an early age, that we have to work hard now to work less later. Save our money today to have money tomorrow. All in preparation for the future, at the expense of the present.

I believe something is inherently wrong with this line of thinking. 

Saving money for your future? Of course it’s important. I set aside money each month that goes into a savings account and remains untouched. I’ve paid off literally all debts (excluding my mortgage – but that’s an “investment”, right?). I’m financially stable, two years removed from having less than $1,000 in my bank account. How? Because I’ve worked hard, been smart about spending, and keep my iPad buying to a minimum.

As important as financial security may be, if you’re eyes are constantly on the horizon, looking toward the future, you’re neglecting to see what’s right in front of you. You’re missing out on life – the only life that’s guaranteed. Today. Right now. This moment.

I’m always reminded of my Grandpa’s advice: “Don’t get old”. He knows and I know that getting old is something that’s unavoidable. It’s going to happen. Every day, every hour, every minute, we get a little bit older. That’s life.

But his message isn’t about turning back the clock or finding the Fountain of Youth. It’s a message of living in the moment. Taking advantage of what’s in front of you. Finding time to travel this weekend. Getting out and playing a round of golf tomorrow morning. Creating a life for yourself that allows you the freedom to enjoy life.

I doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind. It doesn’t mean being irrational. And doesn’t mean that planning for your future isn’t important. But it does urge me, and hopefully you, to be bold. To be daring. To take chances.

I hate to be the barer of bad news, but, yep, you’re going to get old.

But instead of planning and preparing for the destination, enjoy the journey. Enjoy today. Never trade today for a better tomorrow, because today is the best thing you’ve got. It’s the only guarantee.

That may mean moving shifting and shaking up some things in your life. It may mean it’s time to pursue a different career. It may mean moving to a new place. Starting a new relationship. Picking up a new hobby. Whatever it is, give some thought today as to what your ideal life would be.

Then, instead of putting that life on a pedestal, start taking tangible steps to making that ideality a reality.

My grandpa’s been around for a while. He’s a pretty smart dude. Take his advice to heart. Don’t get old. Spend today, and every day after, staying young. Experiencing life. And above all, enjoying it.

(Photo credit)