Build a life you don’t need to escape from

The other day a client told me she was depressed because she found out she had to work 8 more years to get her retirement pension.

And I can’t help but think what she meant to say was “if I want to retire comfortably, I have to sacrifice my happiness doing a job I don’t like for longer than I want”.

How many times have you heard that? Or said to yourself: I can’t wait to be done school… to quit this job… to be let go… to retire?

Sixteen thousand former Sears employees are fighting for their pensions. People who showed up at their jobs, who traded in their best years in hopes of a good future. Believing that if they did what they were told, everything would be okay.

What these people are realizing, and what we’re all realizing is that no, everything won’t be okay. None of us are guaranteed to see our retirement. Period.

We’ve all been persuaded to believe we have to slug away doing work we’re not always proud to do, and wait to enjoy our lives on weekends, summer holidays and when we turn 65.

The industrial economy demanded us to think this way for a really long time. But here’s the thing: people work their whole lives, doing jobs they don’t like for a future they might get to enjoy living – and then they die. Or they become paralyzed. Or demented, or sick.

That’s the deal.

I think that’s really sad.

When I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, what bothered me wasn’t dying per se, but that I might die before I’ve lived my life. At 29, I had just spent 25 years in school, wasting so much time doing work that didn’t matter.

That’s what got me.

The scariest thing is that no doctor can reassure me that I’ll be fine. They can’t, and that’s okay. Because that lack of reassurance has freed me up to do meaningful work and create a life that I don’t feel the need to escape from.

If I die tomorrow, or next week – I’ll know that I’ve left my mark on the world.

Don’t count on false reassurances and promises for a future you might get to have. Instead, try creating a life you don’t need to escape from.

Start living your life with the end in mind by doing work that matters.