The evening started with a walk.
The night was perfect. Even though it was almost the 4th of July, the weather made it seem more like Halloween. It was raining lightly, and the breeze was blowing softly. It was just what I needed.
What made this walk so wonderful? It just WAS. See, normally when I exercise, I do it with the intent of working my hardest. I want to maximize my workout and do it right. It is part of being such a fun perfectionist I suppose. However, this time, I couldn’t work hard. My allergies were acting up, which means my asthma was acting up, so I had to walk slow.
Walking slow was a gift.
Without even trying, I noticed everything around me.
Quite often, I try to pay attention, but I just can’t. My mind wanders, my pace quickens. Not this time though. With no choice but to go at a leisurely pace, I noticed things that I normally wouldn’t focus on. Sure I always hear the birds and see them fly by. But this time, little things resonated with me. I heard music from a distant graduation party, and then remembered the sounds of my brother’s stereo that would be blaring late-70s rock music when I was growing up. I heard the sound of a buzz saw, and thought back to my dad working on one project or another in the backyard. I smelled a bonfire that was somehow surviving the light rain, and thought of burning leaves up north as a child. It became a blend of current and past, and no thoughts of the future.
On my way home, the birds were no longer flying around, but the bats were instead. As the light dimmed, I did think a bit about how nice it is to enjoy this time. So often, I focus on goals and the future, without giving nearly enough regard to the situation today. What I have been realizing more and more though is that while it is responsible to plan for the future, it does not mean you have to suffer today. There needs to be a balance between responsible living and enjoying life.
Of course, I am not advocating a devil-may-care attitude of hedonistic spending. What I am suggesting is evaluating your goals once in awhile and maybe giving yourself a break. So often, people get caught up in the rigidity of a goal and never take a moment to celebrate, or to adjust their goal to a new life circumstance. Is it worth sacrificing so much now just so you can retire when you are 50? Do you really even want to retire when you are 50, or does it just sound fun?
I am not here to judge anyone’s goals or life’s wishes. I am just suggesting people take the time to evaluate their life and what they truly want every once in awhile. I know what I wanted at 30 is different than what I wanted at 40 and even different than what I want now at 45. For example, back when I wasn’t working, I put so much pressure on myself to save as much money as I could so that our house would be paid off at the same time as my youngest child headed off to college. If we did that, then we could save a lot of money, and my husband could retire in his early/mid 50′s. Basically, I felt guilty because my husband was making money and I wasn’t, and I wanted to give him a break in the future. Not only did I focus on and stress out about saving money, but also on how I invested our money. Guess what? My husband doesn’t care (and never did) if he retires before he is 55 or not, he likes working. So, it turns out I created a goal based on self-imposed guilt, which is one of the dumber reasons to create a goal. Of course, I didn’t realize all of that at the time, but it does show why it is so important to evaluate goals periodically, and also discuss goals with your spouse/significant other.
So, take a moment and learn from my mistakes. Get out there and enjoy today, and at some point, do some thinking and decide what you REALLY want for the future. (Remember, enjoying today does refer to spending money, but just getting out and enjoying life.) Keep in mind, saving for retirement and having a reasonable emergency fund is still a requirement. But think about your future goals and if they affect your quality of life. Are they too confining? Do you still want what you are striving for?
Now it is your turn. Have your goals changed over time??