At middle age, please don’t sit back and rely upon someone else–Uncle Sam, your employer, a fast horse, the lottery jackpot or “fate” to guarantee you a bountiful, stress-free tomorrow. For all but an extremely lucky few, things just don’t work out that way! Also, don’t blame someone else if your finances today or life in general aren’t what you expected or intended them to be.
Take a moment to assess your life at middle age. Are you satisfied with who you are today? Are you fulfilled in your career, earning enough to support desired life style, proud of where you work and what you do? Do the tasks you perform make you feel good plus contribute significant value to others?
Is your daily life in balance leaving ample time for fun and relaxation, mutually rewarding relationships, personal growth and community service? Are you comfortable with personal and family finances or does money always seem to run out before all your bills are paid? Are you prepared for emergencies and saving for your future?
Are workplace demands stressing you out, thereby putting a strain on your marriage and family relationships? Do you dread getting out of bed each Monday morning to start another work week? (Who ever invented Mondays, anyway?)
Sadly, far too many of us over 40 are disillusioned with the life we have chosen and with the person we have become. If this describes you, you have two choices:
Choice 1: Recommit to the traditional American dream, relying upon yourself to challenge the future. Target personal success, take risks, work hard and be willing to sacrifice immediate gratification.
Choice 2: Classify yourself as a victim, blame “circumstances” or “others” and wait for someone else to take control and bail you out.
Which path do you choose? As we read in the newspaper, watch on TV or observe on talk radio, it is painfully clear that few Americans today choose the path of self-reliance, are willing to place the common good above their own personal agendas and are ready to blame “the boss” or “politicians” for whatever ails the country today.
Far too many of us have become utterly dependent upon an employer for our livelihood, the federal government for health care and retirement and the wealthy (or as President Obama describes it, “the millionaires and billionaires”) to pay the nation’s taxes.
Unfortunately, in today’s difficult economic times, it makes no sense to stake your future solely upon current employer. Since few of us are under an employment contract, we may be only a pink slip and a moment’s notice away from unemployment. Trade unions across most industries and disciplines no longer wield the bargaining power that they once did.
Given the ballooning federal budget deficit and unsustainable growth in entitlement programs, it makes no sense to stake your entire financial future upon Social Security and Medicare. I guess that leaves only one sound option: appoint yourself CEO of your own destiny.
Here’s a suggestion: why not defy the norm and return to the traditional American value of self-reliance. Look within that wonderful mind of yours to plan out and launch your very own journey to success—on your own terms.
Not one of us on our own can turn around today’s entitlement society, but more and more of us are becoming aware of the problem. As we begin to take control of our own destinies, we will gain confidence both in our own future and in the potential for our country. We are a democracy after all! Perhaps in the not-too-distant future we will begin to elect politicians of both parties willing to face up to problems and to seek real solutions, rather than continually kicking the can down the road.
Do you resent the wealthy? Most have earned their own way–research demonstrates that only 8% of all wealth in America is inherited. Doesn’t it make sense to respect, admire and begin following the advice of wealthy and successful individuals rather than envying and resenting them? Does it make more sense to become rich and successful yourself or to bring the wealthy down to your level? Will it bring you joy and satisfaction if a formerly rich person makes some bad investments and loses it all? How will this benefit you?
In truth, are we resentful of the wealthy not because of their success but because of our self-perceived failure? Thinking back on the “golden interludes” of your life–those periods when you had a strong sense of purpose, a job you admired and warm loving relationships with others, I’d be willing to bet that you weren’t jealous of anyone!
The fastest road to your own success is to adopt proven formulas perfected by others. This way, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel. Whenever you can, network and associate with wealthy and successful individuals and learn from them.
Shaking off failures and disappointments from the past, how does a middle-aged person like you and me become a winner? Here’s some ideas:
- Decide precisely what you define as “success.” Hint: it isn’t just about money–it’s about absence of worry and the freedom to choose. What do you enjoy most out of life and what do you most want to contribute and leave to others as your legacy?
- Set highly specific goals for your future (e.g., not simply a “cottage by a lake” but “a $500,000 summer home on the western shores of Lake Tahoe.”)
- Define those “work tasks” you would most like to perform were it impossible for you to fail? Write down a dream position description.
- Visualize over and over in your mind living out the lifestyle and vocation of your dreams. Begin thinking, speaking and behaving like a winner.
- Look back on the past not with regret but simply as a reference to a positive future. (“Knowing then what I know now, I wouldn’t have made those past mistakes.”)
- Adopt the good habits and sound mindset of a wealthy person before you actually accumulate the money. (But you better not attempt to spend it!)
Bottom line, it is possible to build wealth, serve your community, demonstrate genuine love, strengthen family relationships and enjoy life to the fullest all at the same time, but you better not wait upon God, President Obama, Santa Claus or anyone else. There is no one else in the whole world better suited to look out for your own interests!
Would you like to learn why most people don’t take personal responsibility and why you should? Please tune in to the current episode (introduced as Podcast on August 13, 2012) of my weekly Internet radio program, “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age” on WebTalkRadio.net. On this segment, I interview Dean Gualco, author of an outstanding book on this very subject titled, THE CHOICES AND CONSEQUENCES OF OUR AGE. You can listen at your convenience, any time.