Life is short. Said by so many people in so many different ways it was impossible to get a straight answer from Google on who to credit it with. But you can add me to that list.
Life may not seem short when you are struggling. Some days can feel endless when in pain. Vice-versa, when enjoying yourself life can seem to slip through your fingers before you know it.
And that’s going to be the focus of this post – my thoughts on valuing your time and not ignoring the reality that we all have an end-by date attached.
Defining Your Own Value Of Time
It’s so easy to take time for granted, especially in our younger days. The days ahead can seem unlimited, always another tomorrow. There seems no urgency to anything and everything seems possible.
WBW has the best post ever on visualising just how untrue this is. If you ever need something to hammer home just how valuable your time is, seriously, that’s the one you need to read. As described far less elegantly in our own bio, we ran a similar exercise on our own lives all be it with a focus on travel and exploring.
Essentially, we worked out that our annual holiday allowances didn’t match our adventure dreams. Let alone all the non-travel related things we wanted to do too. For us, it was as simple as recognising we valued our time highly.
We valued the freedom to spend our time on the things that mattered to us higher than having stuff we didn’t need. Higher than impressing others.
It’s a choice – and we were fortunate to be born into a time and country where through hard work and a little luck, you can give yourself options, as we did. Everybody will value their time differently and that’s good. There is no right or wrong answer.
We value our time by knowing we are spending it in the best way possible for us. Not just drifting. Not putting off to tomorrow what can be enjoyed or done today. It is so easy to think that there will always be another day, a better time for making that dream happen. An unlimited number of opportunities still to do whatever it is you want.
The reality is that’s just not true. It’s not always easy or pleasant but remembering we all have a limited amount of time tends to focus the mind like nothing else I know. It’s helped us a number of times to just go and make things happen instead of waiting.
Don’t take your time for granted – it is one of those true but annoying clichés that it really is one of the few things money can’t buy.
Health Over Wealth
It’s impossible to write about valuing your time without getting into the value of your health. They go hand in hand as two of the biggest assumptions we consistently make. One, that we’ve got more time left and two, that we’ll be in decent shape for the majority of that time. It’s, for now, sadly just another inescapable fact of life that as you get older your body ages, however well you look after it.
Some people win better than others in the gene pool lottery but eventually, one way or another, your body and mind are not going to function as well as you will want them to.
There are, unfortunately, plenty of tales of premature deaths and debilitating diseases. Enough by themselves to make you remember how precious your health is. If, like me, you have also had the experience of watching first-hand as someone you love loses their mind or their strength – it really brings it home like nothing else.
S & I both have a love of being outdoors. It just suits us better as a lifestyle. A long hike through some gorgeous scenery, preferable ending up at a suitable watering hole is one of our favorite ways to spend a day. Exploring the world, learning more about all the different cultures and ways of life. All these things are so much easier when you have your health.
Getting out of your comfort zone is also, I believe, far easier when you are strong mentally & physically. You trust your body. Your stress tolerance is higher. You can adapt better and overcome fears easier. If I’m feeling low – it’s far harder to drum up the motivation to go after a dream. The challenges just start to seem to outweigh the positives.
So we do our best to look after our health, mental and physical. Like anything, it’s a balance. But we’ve come a long way in learning what works best for us – and we now focus on making the most of our health whilst we remain fortunate enough to have it.
Our Reason For FIRE
We would hear tale after tale of people saving hard for their retirements, putting all their dreams on hold until then. Traveling to places they’d wanted to go all their lives, living by the sea, mountains. Anywhere that wasn’t dictated by work or schools. A relaxed lifestyle, hobbies re-started, long impromptu lunches with friends and family.
We’d then hear way too many of these stories ending with them either becoming incapable through ill health or even dying suddenly after finally reaching this point in their life when they were ‘allowed’ to live their dreams.
Unsurprisingly, all this played a large part into our desire to retire early. It’s hard not to take the hint that perhaps the traditional path of working flat out and then retiring at 68 was not going to be the best option for us. I will always remember when I first started the horrendous commute to London.
Seas of grey-haired commuters, tapping frantically on phones or laptops, squeezing in tasks before arriving for a long day at the office.
I promised myself there and then that I was not going to be one of them. I’d play the part for as long as it helped – but we needed a different way.
The traditional way just seems to leave so very little time to enjoy your new freedom before the reality of aging kicks in. So for us, pursuing FIRE was largely driven as a way to make the most of our best healthy years before it was too late.
So now we are almost two years into our post-FIRE life. We already have a ton of new memories that wouldn’t have been possible whilst still working the desk-job. Slow travel around SE Asia, twice. Two months in South Africa. Six weeks in rural Spain. Really getting to know the places. Enjoying our own home, long cycle rides, catching up with friends without worrying about fitting it all in to the weekend.
All things we are dependent on our health for – and zero regrets on not waiting longer to start.
Creating A Good Life
I’m not religious but those various statistics and jokes about standing at the proverbial pearly gates and reading the summary of your life never fail to make me think. You know, the kind which state that the average human will spend over 78,000 hours watching TV in their lifetime. That’s pretty much 9 years. 9 solid years.
To be clear, I’m not knocking TV, it’s just an example and it has it’s place for sure. Especially after a tough day at work and your brain just needs to empty and chill. But for me, there’s just something especially odd about getting to the end of your life and saying that a large chunk of it was spent watching other people living theirs.
If I can only have one wish for life – it is to reach the end of it and know that I lived it as well as I could
I think we all envision wanting to live a life full of good memories and no regrets. One of the upsides of accepting death as an unavoidable reality is that it’s a pretty major motivator to get on with doing exactly that.
S & I both have a tendency at times for procrastination. Sometimes it works in our favour, sometimes, not so much. But both of us are in the same place when it comes to putting in the effort to achieve our dreams.
Life is funny in that you can put a whole lot of effort into something and it can be a real let down. Other times just a mix of serendipity and fortune sees you doing something that ends up being one of your best times ever. You can’t control everything, good memories just happen.
But I’m a big believer in it’s a bit like the famous Gary Player quote;
“The more I practice the luckier I get”
If you don’t do anything, probability says nothing will happen. Travel plans don’t just happen, homes don’t build themselves, friends aren’t made. Having no regrets means taking a risk, giving it a go. Getting outside your comfort zone. Learning, growing. The more you do it, the easier it gets – and the more memorable events you have in your life.
S & I are at that stage in life where it’s fun to relive good times together – but we’re also firmly focused on continuing to add to the tales that will eventually tell the story of our lives. When you think about it like that, you want to make sure it’s a good read.
In Memory Of My Nana
This is my Nana Jess. She was a large part of our small family.
She was always up for taking part & enjoyed a good joke.
It hurts to lose someone you love but I’m grateful for the happy memories. Thank you for being my Nana.
I realise this post is different from my usual style and there’s a reason for that. This week, I lost my Nana. It was not entirely unexpected but there is no preparing for losing someone who has been part of your entire life. I have many happy memories with her in them. They now make me sad and happy at the same time.
My parents were truly amazing in managing to keep her at home so she went peacefully and pain-free over a few days. I will be forever grateful to them for giving me the chance for a ‘good’ goodbye. For those of you that have been through this, you will know how much of a difference that makes. Knowing you are saying goodbye to someone is not an easy thing to do – but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I make no apology for the different style this week. I wrote this in honour of my Nana’s life and as my own way to recognise her passing. She was a great lady with a wicked sense of humour before losing her battle with dementia.
All I ask of you in this post is to value your time wisely. Make the most of it. Do your utmost to make your own final life story one you would want to read.
I know my Nana would have raised a glass to that. Probably two… 🙂