One & Only

The weight of one is heavy. Something so rare makes us feel like we only have one chance to get it right. If it’s inanimate, we never want it diminished. If it’s alive, we seek the futile tranquility of immortality.

These desires pressed against the tension of time can make the uniqueness of one feel overwhelming. This can devolve into a fear of change and selfish preservation, but perhaps there is freedom within the timeline of now.

Being present is hard when we’re always reflecting on the past and thinking about the future, but what choice do we have? Altering the past is not an option. All we have is now, and yet, the present never stops passing.

Within this endless transition, gratitude provides peace. It invites us to cherish our one and onlys in life. Such appreciation acknowledges the past, allows the present to be a gift, and instills hope for what’s next. For all that is one and only, I say thank you.

39

It’s my 39th birthday!

I love using birthdays to reflect on what was learned, trying something new, or appreciating memorable moments from the past year. I also like to craft recaps (e.g. 33rd birthday / 2014 recap) for my future self to read. This year, YDNTB is quite the relic to always remember this moment in my life so instead of a personal narrative highlighting the past, let’s lean into the future by exploring the idea of retirement.

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“Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow.” –Naval

I always told myself I wanted to retire in my thirties. Financial advisors are quick to remind us that the golden years of middle class leisure will require around $1 million in savings, but perhaps there’s more to this story.

Yes, the traditional path to retirement is all about earning enough money to cover the burn rate of your life. A second option to realizing financial freedom is to reduce your burn rate to zero, but not many people are cut out to be a monk.

I prefer early retirement in the form of leveraging what you love to do. Similar to what I describe as Career Nirvana, peaceful satisfaction can be achieved when you do something you love so much that it’s not about the money anymore. This doesn’t mean the work stops or that the responsibilities of life fade away. It’s quite the opposite, as more opportunities tend to present themselves when you figure out what you’re best at and map that to what society wants. This forges an abundance of innovative energy you can’t buy. As you collaborate with those who feed off this energy, you soon realize that nobody can compete with being you.

As you build towards such transcendence and realize that a neon future awaits us all, I’ll close with a toast. May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows. Cheers!

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Good, better, best;
Never let it rest,
‘Til your good is better,
And your better is best.