in life

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)

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  1. Matt,

    I’m guessing that you and I are probably about 8-10 years apart in age, maybe slightly less.   I’m over 30. The funny thing is i’ve had this odd combo of signs of aging with youthful indiscretion. I can’t drink like I used to and a hangover is pure hell. But I started skateboarding at age 33 :).  So getting old is really a mind set. You may not control how you age physically, but mentally it’s a choice. 

    • I agree – I’m younger than you but, like you said, age is really (for the most part) a mentality. Physically, things may change but mentally and emotionally, things become so much more diverse and interesting. The key is to keep challenging yourself (skateboarding is a great example). Hope all is well my friend.

  2. As I took 2 years off to travel (okay and get my masters) abroad, I told people I was taking part of my retirement when I was young and healthy enough to enjoy it. I definitely want to keep challenging my mind and expanding my horizons to keep from “getting old”.

    Your grandpa is a very smart man!

    • That sounds like a great plan, Tammy. I’m hoping, before things get very settled down in my neck of the woods, that I’ll be able to do the same – travel more, and cross some things off the proverbial “bucket list” (even though I don’t much believe in them), while I’m still young enough and healthy enough to enjoy them. And yes, that grandpa of mine is pretty wise. :)

  3. I just turned 23 and I see my life flashing before my eyes. My parents and grandparents tell me the same thing. It doesn’t matter if you have money or not (to me) – just enjoy what you have. It’s a blessing! Great post (once again), Matt!

    • Yep. And if you’re not satisfied with where you are – find a way to get satisfied. Hustle. Do whatever it takes to live fully now, because as dramatic as it may sound, tomorrow is never a guarantee.

  4. Life is too damn short to go through the grind day in and day out without taking some time here and there to have a little fun. I try to live by the work hard, play hard mentality. Work super hard at your job, but also don’t forget to have some fun, maybe travel on some weekends, buy yourself a new Apple toy (if you have the means financially), or just explore a new part of your city with friends. It’s those experiences that will create life-long memories, and will keep you happy, healthy and balanced. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to reach retirement and have all sorts of regrets about all the things i didn’t do when I had chance when I was younger and had the means- both physically and financially.

    • Yes. And it’s those “life-experiences” that keep you coming back to the grind, which is inevitable regardless of where you are/what you do, feeling refreshed and renewed. Hope all is well, Jessica. We WILL find time to catch up soon!

  5. Love the blog man . This reminds me to live in the moment and enjoy myself something I tend to forget a lot of the time. However, I admit getting old is a little scary.

    • Of course it’s scary – it can overwhelm you if you let it. But like you said, live in the moment. Enjoy today. Don’t sacrifice the moments you have in front of you, today, while you’re focused on tomorrow. Cheers!