By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, November 19, 2015
Some of you may be too young to remember that the National Football League draft had a lot more "rounds" than it currently does. Even now with just 7 rounds, the very last player drafted is known as Mr. Irrelevant. It is a title both unwanted yet valued. Some of those holding the title beat the odds to go on to play in the NFL and some did very well doing it.
I feel I am beginning to know what being labeled Mr. Irrelevant actually feels like. I turned 70 this year, 2015, and while that may seem old to some, it is young to others much older than me. I have been fortunate to actually retire three times. The first was in 1985 when I retired from the U. S. Coast Guard after serving 20 years. The second occurred when I retired from being both the Team Leader (manager) and the Designated Broker for a Keller Williams Realty office; I retired as the Team Leader. Trying to perform at high levels at both jobs made it far less enjoyable than it should have been. Then in December 2012 I retired from real estate entirely leaving me jobless and without an income for working; it is what most people dream of - retirement, the golden years.
What I learned over those 70 years is firmly implanted in my brain and for the most part there it will stay for only me to ponder. Therein lies the reason why I now feel like Mr. Irrelevant; I have something to offer but no one is paying attention or seems to care. Humor me for a minute. How many older folks do you have in your family and are you paying attention to their wisdom or guidance or have you asked them about their "stories"? Or do you just tolerate their attitudes of frustration over what is happening around them and to them and write it off as an old age syndrome? If you are reading this, thank you. Sadly you will be one of the very few who does. It is my sincere hope that the life-lessons I have learned will eventually benefit someone; hopefully you.
Life Lesson #1: Take good care of yourself while you are young. Throughout life we all learn life lessons and in that regard, I am no different. If I could talk to the world and if the world would actually listen, my #1 Life Lesson would be: Take good care of yourself while you are young while you can do something about your health now rather than wait until it is too late. By that I mean eat right, sleep right, exercise right and seek medical assistance for issues that can be fixed before they become life-style threatening. Most young people are more aware of this than when I was young still I see them ignoring living right in the present and it will eventually catch up with them later and cost them dearly. Even when you do eat right, rest right and exercise right, there are no guarantees in life that you will grow old in a healthy body with a healthy mind. If you are going to grow old and most of us will, I would think you would want a body and mind that can sustain you in your "golden years." Someone recently told me that the only thing golden about her golden years is the color of her pee. My mother told me while in her 90's that every day she awoke, she wondered what part of her body was going to ach that day and every day it was different than before.
I now find myself with a mind full of knowledge and experience and no one to share it with; thus the title Mr. Irrelevant. My mind is thirty-something; body is eighty-something. My mind is telling me that there is nothing I cannot do. My body is telling me that my mind is an idiot. I counted them; I have had 7 major surgeries including open heart surgery. Sometime in 2010 I went to bed a young man and the next day awoke an old man. One day I could walk and play with no pain, the next day I had back issues and still do to this day. My lifestyle had caught up to me before I was ready for it to do so.
My recommendation would be to enjoy life while you are mentally and physically able to do so. Buy less stuff you really do not need and save your money while you can. Take vacations that you are entitled to and don't leave them to some nebulous future date that never comes. Go to Disneyland, Mount Rushmore, or the Grand Canyon; and/or take the week or two week cruise to far off places. What are you waiting for? You, like far too many others, work until they drop and never get the chance to do these things and more. Wonderful memories don't just happen, you create them. Unless you make changes while you are young, the ONLY memories you will have will be work related and/or your efforts to keep up with the neighbors. Create your good memories now and don't regret wasting your time on things that just don't matter.
Life Lesson #2: Be absolutely driven by goals or objectives or resolutions. It doesn't matter what you call them, they are all targets. If you fire a weapon into the air, it can and will hit just about anything. If you want something in life, create a target to hit. Here are my recommendations:
- BAG! Make whatever it is you want, something really big. Something that you may need an entire lifetime to achieve. It is okay to set small tasks that eventually lead to your really big life's goal but you need that really big life goal. In fact, Joe Tye's suggests you call it a BAG! Big Ass Goal! Make it your Life's Mission Statement. As an example, my Life's Missions Statement is, "To help people do what they do to do it better!" By helping someone else to become better at what they do, I became better at what I did. There is no better example in my mind of what the definition of a win-win situation would be. I use Joe Tye's Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ) and recommend you do likewise. I ask myself the question, "Is what I am going to say or do at this very moment leading me towards achieving my Life's Mission Statement?" As I write this Nugget I am not writing for myself; no, I am writing it for someone else, maybe you, or maybe thousands of someone elses, it makes no difference, I am writing it to help someone else do what they do to do it better. Therefore if the answer to your question is YES, say or do it. If the answer is NO, then don't say or do it. The next question should then be, "What SHOULD I be doing (task) if I am to achieve my Life's Mission Statement? or my Big Ass Goal?"
- Work from a Daily To Do List. If your list has more than 10 items you are probably micro-managing your list. If you have 10 major things to do, you cannot possibly do them all in the time allotted. It is okay to add to your list little things like pick up your dry cleaning but I would recommend your list contain those things that first MUST be done; no exceptions - they MUST BE DONE. Hopefully you have only 2 or 3 such items. Then you can add items or activities that would be NICE TO BE DONE but not necessarily DONE TODAY! Somewhere on your Daily To Do List I would also encourage you to add the activities that you KNOW you MUST or SHOULD do EVERYDAY; without exception. In my case it was (1) read something positive or motivational first thing in the morning. (2) read something positive or motivational last thing at night. (3) read for at least one hour something that would make me develop into a better person either relating to my work or my mind. (4) write at least 5 personal hand written note cards to people you need to write but more importantly people who you just think of on that day. Five of them. Just receiving a hand written card saying, "I was thinking of you!" How would you feel if you received such a card. Honestly, this was the hardest of the 4 things that I wanted to do that day to get done. Had the cards sitting by my desk ready to go but more often than not I would get distracted from my objective and not return. If you write it down, it tends to get done.
- Find an accountability partner. This can be anyone; preferably someone who is interested in you becoming the best you can become. The partner does not need a working knowledge of your profession but that could help. Once you discover your BAG, your Big Ass Goal, you can easily begin creating effective Daily To Do Lists. Schedule a weekly meeting where you can either meet or make a telephone connection with your Accountability Partner. At this meeting you share with your partner all that you said you would do that when done will lead you to your BAG. Share what you have already done that you specifically said you were going to do. Share all that you said you were going to do but failed to do and why in your opinion you failed to do them. Not too many excuses can hold water once you have to explain to someone aloud why you didn't do a certain thing or two. Remember, If you write it down, it tends to get done especially if you have to tell someone you did or did not do it.
- WRITE! Write about your daily activities either on your computer or in some form of journal. Include what you did, who you met, what you were feeling and/or thinking, people you met and how to contact them, something you may have read that had meaning for you, just write and keep writing. Trust what I tell you, there will come a time when you can no longer remember or recall individuals, dates, places, books, movies, songs, etc. Of course none of this is necessary unless you want to leave something of real value to your family and their families about who you were, what you did, what you thought, etc. A question: How much do you know about your father, your mother, your aunt, your uncle, your grandparents or even your siblings? Truth is, not all that much. If you never write things down as they happen, they never will know anything more than what others say about you and then it is their stories, not yours.
Life Lesson #3: Learn money matters! By that I mean the value of saving and investing your income instead of spending it payday to payday. BUT WAIT! WORK BACKWARDS! How do you see yourself living at age 50, 60 or 70? Where will you be living? What type of house will you own? How many homes will you own? What type of car will you be driving? These things don't just happen, they happen by design. Where will you find the money to FUND your lifestyle into retirement. While these are very separate questions not directly relating to "money matters" they are still very valuable insights needed to achieve whatever it is you desire to achieve. Let's say you want that home or condo on the beach. You can price homes using today's standards but that won't help you much into the future. Suffice it to say, you will need a great deal more money 40, 50 or 60 years out into the future to buy what you might think to be a standard home of today. There are legal ways to earn the kind of money you will require - earned income, interest on investments, appreciation on homes, inheritance, and/or pure luck. As you look through those categories, decide on which ones you control, ONLY ONE - earned income. What you get paid for what you do. Therefore if it is going to take a lot of money to live the life you want into your Golden Years, what MUST you do RIGHT NOW to get the education required to capture a job or business that will pay you enough money to engage in the other categories without fear of failure of those investments for your future. I would strongly recommend reading two books. First, The Richest Man in Babylon. Second, The Wealthy Barber. These two should lead you to a desire to read more books on wealth management but they will give you a start. In The Richest Man in Babylon the basic rule is very simple - pay yourself at least 10% FIRST, before you pay anyone else and do it without fail. Another good rule to follow is that whenever you get an increase in your pay, immediately take 10% of the increased and add it to the 10% you are already paying yourself. DON'T BLOW IT! Invest it! Get in the habit of making monthly investments to yourself - FOREVER! Don't rely on some nebulous inheritance from some great relative. Bet on what you know - yourself. If you don't plan for your own future, no one else is going to either. Here is a link to several financial calculators but this one is for a simple savings account. http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/simple-savings-calculator.aspx Play with the amounts and be realistic with the interest rates. You will be shocked at how much you can or cannot earn over time by maintaining a simple amount invested every month. The "going" interest rate will be critical. In 2015 you would be lucky to find a plan that paid 2.0%. Invest in your future by researching the various opportunities to save what interest rates they provide then stay on top of the plan to make certain it remains your best opportunity.
Life Lesson #4: Get your life in order. You never know when your day of rest will be upon you. Could be today, next year, 10 years or 50 years. No one knows for certain because there is no expiration date on the souls of your feet to let you or anyone know. Therefore, if you care for your loved ones, prepare for that day NOW! DON'T WAIT! Get all your affairs in order, make a will (it doesn't matter how young you may be as you read this), make lists of things you want done, who should be notified, where all your important documents and assets can be found. Don't forget the passwords to your accounts. Just get your life in order and then it would be a simple matter to keep it in order as things change.
Life Lesson #5: READ, READ, READ! Fiction may be entertaining but not necessarily informational or instructional. When was the last time you read a book relating to your profession? To your own self-help? To improve your attitude? For most people they haven't read any such books. Look at the numbers. If you read just one hour a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year; you will have read a total of 260 hours. Anyone who reads that much on material relating to their profession and/or well being would be a world renowned expert in their field. With that said, why is it that you are NOT reading just one hour a day on what should matter most to you - your future? Watch just one less hour of television and read. MAKE TIME, READ FOR ONE HOUR A DAY!
If a 10 year old Gymbeaux came to me and sat by my side and asked, "PawPaw, what do I need to know for my future?" These are some of the things I would tell him. But alas, how many 10 year olds, teenagers or even young adults would ever ask their elders of such things; after all, they are old, what do they know? They have become Mr. or Mrs. Irrelevant.
How much easier life would be if they, whoever "they" are, taught such things in our schools instead of the political correct crap they do teach. Pardon me if I digress after all, I'm old, I'm Mr. Irrelevant am I not? What do I know? Why should you care about what I know?
Side note: If ever you wanted proof that when the student is ready the teacher shall appear, here it is. I started writing this when I was feeling sorry for myself for having a mind full of stuff no one wanted to hear about. Then I saw this video and I felt she was talking about me and directly to me. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not! The music is great but the message is at the end; stay until the end.