Saturday, December 1, 2012

Perspective

I've heard stories before of people who have retired, and soon after retiring they experienced some type of misfortune that resulted in their death. I remember working with a guy a few years ago who told me a story about his grandfather who died of a heart attack a few months after retiring. These have always just been anecdotal examples, and I've never actually personally known someone who experienced this type of regrettable fate.

Until now.



As part of my job, which is working as a service advisor at a car dealership, I have to undergo continuous training which is designed to keep me fresh and knowledgeable with the product and techniques to improve my customer service skills. I've been doing this job now for over five years, and as such I tend to see the same instructors at these classes. It's a small world. One instructor, we'll call him "Bob", has led two classes I've attended. He was an affable guy, and fairly personable. One nice thing I always liked about Bob was that he usually let class out early. That's always much appreciated.

Bob seemed to really love his job. He'd been doing it for many years. He knew the product inside and out and always seemed to stay on-topic. We, as dealership personnel, were there to learn techniques to help us do our job better and Bob usually provided us the tools to do so. From what I can remember he'd been a trainer for our manufacturer for at least 10 years, but I do believe it was actually much longer than that. It was perhaps approaching 20 years.

I learned very recently that Bob retired a few months ago. I was actually a bit surprised to hear that, as he seemed to be one of those guys that really loved his job and would perhaps continue to work at it in some form or fashion for as long as he could. From what I've heard he actually wanted to spend more time with his family. The type of training he does requires a lot of travel and leaves little time to spend with loved ones. I can imagine that it's a tough life living out of a suitcase, traveling from city to city and spending that much time in airports and hotels. He decided to give it up.

The sad news about this story is that he recently passed away. His memorial service was this past Thursday. He was a fairly young guy, and I believe he was not much over 60 years old. He retired just three months ago. I don't have all the details, but it seems his death was sudden and completely unexpected. That's truly sad, and I wish his family the best.

What's the point of this story? How is this relevant?

Well, this blog is all about retiring early in life. As such, I believe it's important to maximize your limited time here on Earth doing the things you want to do. If you want to work, work. If you want to sleep, sleep. If you want to sit on a beach all day, then grab your chair. Don't let tomorrow wait, because it's not guaranteed to you. Do whatever you need to do so that you can do what you want to do. I'm living far below my means now so that I can live my life on my terms down the road. I'm living like no one else will now so that I can live like no one else can later. 

I heard of Bob's fate through a co-worker who also knew him and trained with him. He was going to the memorial service. I expressed my condolences as I always thought Bob was a good guy. I told my co-worker that this type of story is exactly why I'd like to retire early in life. I can think of few tragedies worse than dying soon after retiring. His response to me:

"Really? I think this just goes to show you that you should work as long as possible. I think once someone stops working, they don't have a purpose anymore. I think their body and mind knows this. I've seen lots of people who die after retiring because they just don't feel a purpose anymore"

Perspective. 

I really find it amazing that people think one's only purpose in life is to work. This is quite sad. I suppose it has something to do with our consumerist culture. I'm writing this post today, which is quite personal, to give you all a little perspective. What's your purpose in life? If you found out you only had three months to live, would you continue to work until the end? My co-worker clearly would. It seems Bob really liked his job. However, I'd be willing to bet that if he could go back in time he'd retire earlier in life so that he could spend more time with his family and accomplish some of the personal things he always set out to do. He was clearly already professionally accomplished. 

Perspective. Please keep it alive. Please don't lose it and keep your eye on whatever goals you want to accomplish in your life.

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