Lunar Letter / The Golden Years

Many of us yearn for them and not all of us get to enjoy them…

What are the golden years and what can we do to get to them without having to wait so long?

Traditional thought contemplates working 40 or 50 years in a company in order to have a retirement, allowing us to live the last years of our lives in peace and tranquility. While in the history of humanity this concept is relatively new, it is much like chasing after a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. During our working lives we want to get there, to that ideal state of not having to work; but the closer we get, the farther it seems to be and when we think we have gotten there, it frequently goes away.

Although it might sound improbable and difficult to do, how about retiring right now? The word “jubilare” in Latin means to “shout with joy”, and this same word in romance languages also means to retire. I propose we begin express joy starting right now, instead of waiting so many years to do so.

Traditionally, people worked until their health permitted. When they could no longer work due to sickness or physical limitations, their family or friends helped them subsist. It wasn’t until the 18th century when the idea of giving a monthly stipend to people who reached a certain age was introduced. In the 19th century several companies began giving their employees a pension after a required number of years of service.

In 1883, the German Chancellor, Otto Von Bismark announced the payment of a pension to Germany’s citizens when they reached the age of 65. It was a direct response against the rising popularity and power of the Marxist movement in his country. And so, Germany became the first country to offer a payment allowing people to live well in their golden years.

Is it necessary to wait until 65 years of age to express joy and enjoy the rest of our lives?

What can we do to shout with joy before getting to the age which for so many signifies the golden years?

The primary thing we need to do is to enjoy what we are doing now, and this isn’t always easy. For 17 years, as a financial consultant, I helped many people plan for their golden years by establishing a solid economic base allowing them to do so. In all that time, it seemed interesting to me that my clients’ happiness wasn’t determined by their profession, their job, or the amount of money they made, rather by their attitudes towards what they were doing. I met people with many titles, professionals, who made a lot of money, who were some of the most miserable souls I have known. I met others with no fancy titles, humble jobs, making little money who were some of the happiest people I’ve met.

So then, what’s the answer?

Our “Golden Years” can begin now with a positive attitude toward our work, our colleagues, ourselves and our environment. Our attitude toward what we do is fundamental. If you don’t like what you are doing or where you are right now, begin planning to do something else. In a nutshell, I love the way Facundo Cabral expresses the thought:

“Do only what you love and you will be happy. Those who love what they do are blessedly condemned to success, which will come when it should come, because what should be, will be and will come naturally.”

Enjoying each moment can convert you into a person filled with constant joy. This will allow you to “retire” and “shout with joy” giving and give a shine to your years, making them golden, without having to wait so long.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 32