His name was Michael. He was one of my clients, and he told me a story I will never forget.
Michael got a call from his favorite aunt who needed him to cut her grass. He was more than willing to help; she had always been special to him. She was one of those people who dedicated her life to helping others.
He got up early on Saturday and loaded up his mower into his truck. His aunt was going to attend a function at church, and after they chatted for a while, her ride came and she was on her way. Michael went to work on the yard.
A couple of hours into the job, Michael decided to stop and eat. However, he had been in a rush that morning, and he had forgotten to pack his lunch. So, sweaty and hungry, he thought he’d just go find something to eat in his aunt’s kitchen. No big deal, right?
Michael opened the fridge, but all he saw was some out-of-date milk and a bottle of ketchup. He moved over to the cabinets but only found the dishes and cups. Finally, he checked the cupboard. That’s when his heart sank. The cupboard was completely empty—except for seven cans of dog food.
Michael paused. He looked me square in my eyes and his voice began to shake. He said the words I will never forget:
“Chris, my aunt doesn’t own a dog.”
The air left the room. Tears filled our eyes. Michael saw something that he could not “unsee.” I had just heard something that I could never “unhear.” I would never be able to erase it from my memory. This amazing woman, who had spent so many decades taking care of other people, was eating dog food. It was the most nutritious “food” she could afford.
That story has stuck with me all these years. It drives me to help people, and when I think of it I want to scream, “THAT’S NOT OKAY!”
I want you to remember this story because I don’t want you to end up there. It is not okay for anyone to end up there. But, I want you to do far more than that. I want you to aspire to a great retirement. I want you to live your dream.
In order to get down to the business of dreaming, we must begin to look at retirement in a different way. I want you to replace those old, tired, and depressing ideas attached to the word retirement with the truth: retirement is a new chapter, not the end of the book! It is some of your best years, it brings new opportunities, and it is about your legacy. It should mean wealth, peace, fun, satisfaction, security, and freedom! Retirement shouldn’t be defined any longer as an “old person thing.” You don’t want to wait until the last few paragraphs of your life story to live out your dreams. Retirement should be viewed as a “smart person thing.” Retirement is a “focused person thing.” It is the result of having a plan and making sacrifices to get there. And you can have that dream retirement—if you’re willing to work for it beginning today!