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Don’t put off living until you retire

School’s out for summer! Do you remember that feeling of having, what seemed like, endless weeks of vacation stretching out ahead?

Even with a summer job it felt so good just not to be in school. Can anything match that sense of freedom?

Retirement. A current hot topic, perhaps always has been. I hear a lot of people say they are just counting down the days, even with a decade left to go.

Some of my contemporaries are already there, retired early — clearly on very different career tracks than mine! At the other extreme I’ve worked with clients who say it snuck up on them, or they were forced into it, and are suddenly having to figure out a sense of identity without their job and how best to use all that time.

Advice around preparing for retirement is abundant. Most focuses on finances, and all says that you’re never too young to start investing in your future. I agree, and add that this goes for more than just your money.

I’ve a friend who just turned 40. She recently taught herself to knit to keep her hands and mind nimble with complicated patterns. She’s also taken up tennis. “It’s a good older person’s sport,” she said. “The rate time seems to be flying, I’ll be 60 before I know it and want to start [as a senior citizen] fit and ready.”

My wonderful yoga teacher stresses that the key to long-term agility is in keeping ourselves flexible and working on strength and balance, to maintain it as we age.

Another area to invest in is our growth. Human needs psychology suggests that growth is one of the fundamental components of a fulfilling life. “If we’re not growing, we’re dying,” quips Tony Robbins. We often rely on our careers or our parenting jobs for growth. How can we ensure we keep growing when these are done, and continue our passion and learning throughout life?

A great family friend is a living example of this potential. A dedicated homemaker and mother, she’d missed the opportunity of a college education in her youth. At 50, when her daughter was finishing university, she was just preparing to go. It was something she’d always wanted to achieve for herself. She discovered she was very academic and continued on to get a master’s, then a PhD. In her seventies now, she is one of the most respected authorities in her field.

What is it you want to achieve in your lifetime? Have you got a bucket list? There’s a useful coaching tool called The Rocking Chair Test that helps us individually capture our ideas of what a fulfilling life looks like. What would you really like to have done in this lifetime?

Whatever it is, start working on it now. Yes, prepare for the future, but don’t put off living until retirement. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so enjoy what you enjoy now. Learn what you can while you can. Engage in your happiness today rather than waiting for the gold watch. The time ticks fast and even the summer holidays eventually end.

Julia Pitt is a trained success coach and certified NLP practitioner on the team at Benedict Associates. For further information contact Julia on 705-7488, www.juliapittcoaching.com.