Chances are that you have come across some aged folks who recall their life decisions during conversations such as these: ‘When my kids were young, I spent most of my day in doing chores and got tired at the end of the day when kids came home from school. I feel I lost precious time that I could have spent with my kids, helping them with projects and taking them to parks and museums.” A common regret they all had was that their life decisions led to money saved but time lost. They may now have all the time in the world, but their kids are perhaps busy. A lesson well learnt for us, I think. People say that life is a weird teacher; it gives us a test first and then teaches us the lesson. Many such lessons are learned the hard way, by going through the fire first.
Studies have shown hundreds of patients on deathbeds repenting for not doing they ought to have done when there was time. Nurses tell tales of patients crying and expressing anguish for not having held the grandchild because they cut ties, for not having married the person they loved, for not having spent time with family, all while they’re counting their last breaths. What use is repenting when you can do it while the time lasts.
Some of the things that count, which you needn’t wait for the ‘Right time’ are the following revelations according to me:
- Family is more important than the millions: When we’re young, we equate success with the millions. Being financially independent and retiring early (FIRE) is the motto of many young professionals in their early twenties. What results is unending hours spent in boardrooms and client locations, bulging EMIs for the bigger house, bigger TV and bigger car and less time to partake of these luxuries. No matter how busy or my lifestyle in Singapore is, there is an unexplainable sense of joy and happiness meeting family and friends whenever I visit India.
- Health is more important than money: Hands down. With medical expenses skyrocketing and the agony of hospital visits with lifestyle diseases, it makes for some precious common sense to invest in good health from a young age. I have seen many teenagers hitting the gym and jogging and being asked by middle aged men and women- why do you need to exercise! I laugh out loud because I feel they’ve started well and must rather continue forever. I’m young so I can eat whatever I want and need not exercise is the myth of the century. Get back in shape, get back to fitness. It is absolutely worth it.
- Investing in meaningful relationships is the biggest wealth: Thanks to several social media platforms, we are all connected to so many people from various walks of life. At one point, I had over 1400 friends on my Facebook profile. One fine day, I cleaned up the list. Today, only those that matter to me are still on the list. Research tells us that school friends stay stronger than anyone else you make later in life. That’s because we’ve grown up together and have accepted each other along the way when we didn’t even have an identity apart from our name. Keep in touch with friends. Make new friends. Help them when they need. Have get-togethers and meet ups. Share your anxiety with your best friends. You won’t need a counselor if you have friends who can show you the mirror and keep you grounded. If you distance from friends now, you will surely remain isolated in life.
- Saving, Investing, Planning is as important as earning: Money may not have a life but it definitely has legs and it runs quite fast. Too many people have the wrong notion that they need not save ‘so soon’ and that there’s still time for it. That tight time just flies away and you reach middle age without any savings to count on. Savings must become a habit from the first paycheck. Save as much as you can, invest in short term and long-term plans and plan for your routine expenses. That way, you accumulate more wealth than just by earning. We all know of those families who have suffered issues because they didn’t have any savings.
- You only live once (YOLO): That trip you wanted to make with friends, that girl you wanted to ask for coffee, that opportunity in a faraway country you really want to and know won’t come again- go grab it. There are some things that are age appropriate. You won’t get young again. Kids won’t stay kids forever. They grow before you realize. Body will not support your crazy dreams. Do it while it’s the right time. You want to learn music. A craft. To cook. To swim. Then go for it. Don’t wait for the ‘Right time’. There is no better ‘Right time’ than now!
- Handling those emotions wisely: Identify emotions when you experience them and weed out unwanted ones. Reconnect with relatives and friends you’d stopped talking due to some foolish misunderstandings. Stop envying colleagues and friends for their new acquisitions. Remember, every person is the maker of his/her own destiny. You have as many opportunities as they had. Go make the most of those opportunities before spending life in envying others. On the contrary, complement your colleagues, gym mates, the staff, and random strangers for their smile, for their outfit and the good work. It doesn’t cost anything but will make their day!
Letting life rule us is indeed not a wise choice but we still end up doing just that. Then we learn the lesson life teaches, but it’s too late by then.
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