“You’re SO lucky!”. “I’m envious of what you’re doing”. “I want to do that some day”. These are some of the responses I receive when talking to friends or acquaintances about what I’ve been doing these days. I would like respond back with – “Well, you could be doing this” but I know the answer sounds too easy. It’s how I see things and perhaps not how they may see or be able to do things.
I can’t remember who said it (a family member or a friend), but in one recent conversation a comment was made that I was “living The Good Life”. The words sort of stuck in my brain. For several days they rattled around in my cranium searching for a response. It started a conversation in my head. “Yeah, I guess maybe I am living The Good Life. So what?” “But what the hell is The Good Life? And how did I find It”? The answers came out on a note pad one night and maybe they form a better come back to my friends when they marvel at my lifestyle.
How Did I Find The Good Life?
- I had a dream – If you want to live a dream life you gotta have a dream. It was my dream to do what I’m currently doing. In my early 20’s, I saw it, envisioned it, and knew exactly what I wanted to do.
- I had a plan – I worked most of my adult life to provide for my family. But I also was working to retire early so I could live my dream. Savings, lifestyle, finances, mortgages, college expenses were all planned so I could retire in my early 50’s.
- I was lucky – Luck was a factor in terms of my family, my job, my health. I found a great life partner in my wife and have two great sons. I also was lucky (and my family) not to suffer any major calamities. I’m very fortunate that things worked out to support my plan.
- I did not succumb to fear – At age 54, I quit my job with its six figure salary and five-figure bonus. I left behind a big office, personal secretary, stock options, stock grants, company paid health insurance, 401k match, and all the security provided by a big corporate job. It would have been so easy to stay. But it’s the things you don’t do that you later regret. So, I took the leap to live my dream.
- I was motivated by fear – I had been a long distance cyclist for numerous years. At age 54, I was still riding like a 20-year-old, but my body was starting to show serious signs of wear from all the miles. Constant muscle pulls, Injures that wouldn’t heal, and body parts that kept getting injured. It hit me one day that my body was wearing out. It was telling me that if I wanted to enjoy an active retirement, I needed to stop working and not wait. It was this fear (that my body wasn’t going to wait) that made me take the leap.
- I dared to venture out – There’s a Chinese saying that the first step of a journey is the most difficult. Handing over that $70K check for my first RV and venturing out came with a lot of stress and anxiety. Sitting in the RV dealers office, I felt a little buyers remorse creeping up. But I remember saying to my self – “this is what you dreamed of and planned for”. I bought the rig and drove off the lot with a smile on my face that lasted for weeks.
- I adjusted – Two years into retirement and living my dream, I came down with some major illnesses. It was serious stuff that kept me grounded for over a year. But I got thru it. Came out different and adjusted my dream to do the things I could. And I got over what I could no longer do and embraced what I could still do.
What is The Good Life?
The answer to this one has to be different for each person. My feeling is that it’s based on a person’s values. Live a life that focuses your time supporting your values. If a person highly values their friends and companions, then the good life may be spending lots of time with friends. If someone values accomplishment and being outdoors, it may be hiking tall mountains. For someone who values giving back and helping others, it may be volunteering at a charity. For someone who values their work, it could be making a difference or personal recognition.
For me, some of my values are family, new experiences, being in the moment, accomplishment, and learning. My Good Life includes things like being able to travel and enjoy new places with my family, meeting new people, experiencing new places that put you in the moment and take your breath away, learning new things.
What My Good Life Looks Like.
Seeing Monument Valley with my son
Seeing the look on my wife’s face encountering the wild horses on Assateague Island.
Eating a favorite meal at a favorite place.
Learning how fly a stunt Kite.
It was scary taking that leap when I gave up my job. But, I don’t miss it at all. And, I’m so glad I didn’t wait to do these things. Having suffered from illnesses, loosing friends to early deaths, and seeing family members suffer just reinforces the knowledge that this life is so short and fleeting. It’s best to do the things you enjoy or dream of doing Now.
The Good Life is out there for everyone. I’m just glad I was able to find mine and be able to experience it.