John: One of the hardest experiences I ever had was losing my parents at a young age. They were absolute rocks in my life for as long as I could remember. My wife is experiencing now, as her parents are in poor health, and she is afraid that today she will get the call that they are gone. While she still sees them frequently, they don’t get around as fast as they once did and, eventually, they won’t be around anymore. Words can’t describe how much I’ll miss them when they’re gone. I know quite well that the same thing will eventually happen with me. I will eventually lose a step, can’t get around as fast as I once did. And I will wonder whether or not I should be living life to the absolute fullest today instead of saving for tomorrow. But I still believe tomorrow will come and I need to be prepared.
Question for my three friends: do you live for the fullest today instead of saving for tomorrow?
Jen: Tough question! When I was 13 my mom was diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease following a pregnancy that almost resulted in her death (and my sister’s, who was born in the car weighing just over 3 pounds!) Fortunately they both survived, but there were several years where every single day I thought it could be my mom’s last. She has since survived numerous blood clots, pulmonary emboli, AMIs, infections and more. My entire family lived for the moment, through every decision from choosing filet over sirloin to outlandish vacations over stay-cations. One day, my mom saw a car she really liked, and later that day my dad showed up at home with a brand new Candy-Apple-Red Mustang GT 5.0 convertible. I still have no idea how he pulled that off financially, we were far from wealthy. They made a lot of other seemingly crazy decisions over the years. When I was in middle school, they decided the Sunday as spring break was over to load up the car and drive from Bozeman, Montana up to Edmonton, Alberta ‘just because it would be really cool and make a great story!’ And they were right, it makes a great story!
It was not until more recently that they settled down somewhat. My mom is going on 23 years sick, but breakthrough medications have given her a second chance. As a result of these outlandish whims, I now lean towards a more conservative and steady approach. I suppose I don’t need to experience the risk or thrill of it.
No matter how you choose to live your life, do it authentically and own your choices. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
What does living to the fullest really mean anyhow? For my parents, it meant sports cars, traveling, months-long international cruises, parties, and living a life that is book-worthy. For me, living to the fullest means doing whatever makes me feel complete, no matter what circumstances surround me. This usually comes from simple things like spending time with my children just watching a movie, reading a book, or talking together. It’s different for everyone and I don’t fault my parents for their choices. In a way, I find it admirable that they tackled life as they did instead of sulking or giving up on life. Reflecting now, I’ve just realized while writing this that it’s probably why my mom survived the worst of the years. No matter how you choose to live your life, do it authentically and own your choices. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
Molly: In this point in my life, I am all about the balance between living for today and saving for tomorrow. However, I’m in this position now because I focused on saving starting in my early 20s. I always set aside part of my paycheck for savings in addition to what I put into my 401K. I worked extra hours and invested in myself by pursing professional certifications and education. I didn’t really think about whether or not I was living in the moment, as my peer group and husband were following similar professional paths. Popular phrases were “pay your dues” not “work/life balance”, and we followed suit without question. It wasn’t until my late 30s did I stumble on finding my sweet spot with saving for tomorrow and living in the fullest. I fiercely protect my family time and use my paid time off without guilt. I do not have regrets of grinding early on in life, as I’m reaping the benefits of being able to balance it now.
I work to live life to the fullest today, but I dream and plan of my tomorrow.
Trish: John, I work to live life to the fullest today, but I dream and plan of my tomorrow. I think of what retirement may look like, where I may want to live 5 years from now, 10 years from now, 20+. My tomorrow is what drives my today. My answer is as simple as that. I look forward to hearing what Jen and Molly’s thoughts are. I also look to you, John, to ask this same question to #fourfriends a year from now.
Originally published on 11.15.18 on LinkedIn