It’s Never Too Early to Start Investing for your Retirement

Think about your Life Goals Now, take it from someone who figured it out later in life.

A few days ago I received a message from a social media system in Germany, similar to LinkedIn. The message made me aware that a contact of mine had posted a request for advice. I logged in and read the request. Ulrike was mainly referring to having gone to a different country (China) and not being sure how the next step in life could look like. She had visited a few times, was fascinated by the energy people had, the prevalence of youth, the openness towards technology, and the feeling of constant progress and innovation.

Many people had already commented on this post and given some support and advice on how to cope with the uncertainty of life in a new place. It reminded me of an earlier realization that people from Germany tend to see obstacles, hurdles, problems, and issues first.

Opportunities appear to them mainly after the initial concern has been resolved. Most times there are so many things in the way obscuring the opportunity that the effort required to do something about them appears insurmountable and therefore, nothing is done — except for heavy complaining.

When you look into the topic a little more you will find that many people from ancient Greek times to the present have made important statements about this:

Earl Nightingale once wrote:

 “Happiness is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal, or goal. You only feel truly happy when you are making progress, step-by-step, toward something that is important to you.”

Victor Frankl, neurologist, psychiatrist, and the founder of logotherapy, wrote that “the greatest need of the human being is for a sense of meaning and purpose in life.”

Bryan Tracy created an e-Book a while ago where he reflects on this situation and states:

Happiness Requires Goals: Goals give you a sense of meaning and purpose. 

Goals give you a sense of direction. As you move toward your goals you feel happier and stronger. You feel more energized and effective. You feel more confident and competent in yourself and your abilities. Every step you take toward your goals increases your belief that you can set and achieve even bigger goals in the future. 

More people today fear change and worry about the future than at any other time in our history. One of the great benefits of goal setting is that goals enable you to control the direction of change in your life. 

Goals enable you to assure that the changes in your life are largely self-determined and self-directed. 

Goals enable you to instill meaning and purpose into everything you do. 

You are only happy when you are doing something that is moving you toward something that you want.”

I agree with these sentiments and like to add that we are not really ever taught to think in the categories of a “plan for life”. I wasn’t either and have only recently realized that it would have been very beneficial to think that way and then develop goals and sub-goals as stepping stones to each milestone and ultimately the overall goal.

Photo by Ronnie Overgoor on Unsplash

Well, what’s the overall or ultimate goal?

That’s not something the applies universally but I have found that many people would love to be able to live in a situation where they have enough money to pay all the bills, don’t have to work anymore, follow their passion and ideals and do each day what they want with their time.

For many people that would also fit the description of retirement.

For most of the years in my life, I have thought that too. Recently I have added a component that I didn’t think about or read about — it’s probably a realization that is based on many small experiences and my reaction to them.

For sufficient income to pay the bills, I have adopted the term: “Economic Independence” that I first heard from Garrett Gunderson, the founder of the Wealth Factory.

For me, my family, and the people who allow me to mentor them, I recommend and have invested my money in residential real estate to create a passive income portfolio of well-performing properties.

As much as I can I will keep adding to that portfolio until I retire — which is probably going to happen pretty soon.

As a side note, every reader should really answer the question: How does retirement look for me? Will I totally stop working to will I reduce my activities by a certain level? Will I remain in my current location and my current house or apartment or would I like to move and why?

There are mainly financial aspects that take up the majority of headspace when thinking about investing for retirement.

As I am inching closer to the day that will define the start of my version of retirement, I began reflecting on what other components are important to me.

I realized that the environment, the culture, the “vibe”, etc. are gaining importance in my thinking and decision making. When I ask how I want to live and where I can live in an environment that matches my expectations, I started to realize that things have changed a lot in the last 25 years and probably lead me to change what I anticipated to be my retirement.

What does that mean?

When I immigrated with my family to America 25 years ago we came based on a military exchange assignment. I flew for the Air Force for several years, then was recruited into an executive position for a software company that sponsored my work visa application. Later my family received Green Card, and we started our first business. Around that same time, we began investing in our retirement real estate portfolio.

Financially we have exceedingly met our goals on the path to that retirement date.

Environmentally and culturally the opposite has happened.

When we were first coming to America in the 1990s there was a lot of excitement because the Iraq war had ended and troops were returning. The economy was recovering. Employment was growing. Innovation was everywhere and soon we were on our way towards the Dot-com bubble.

The technology was quickly advancing and it felt like everybody was taking part. I found goods from all over the world in more and more shops and prices were reasonably stable, especially compared to the 80s and early 90s.

The America we experienced was happy, globally expanding, seen everywhere as a leader, guiding light, example of prosperity and success. We felt we were part of something great.

Fast forward 25 years to early 2021.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

We have the worst impact of the pandemic of 2020. The country is in a class war between the 99% and the lucky 1%. Politically we have the deepest divide I have ever seen with radical ideas growing and the willingness to use violence growing.

We have an environment of the constant fight: fight for survival, fight for affordable housing, fight for rights across all classes, fight for women’s rights, fight for government assistance, student loan forgiveness, stimulus checks, and other programs to allow us to remain in reasonable living conditions and not become homeless. Fight for democracy as a whole. And not to forget — fight against anything declared to be foreign.

There is no feeling of happiness, innovation, openness to the world, leadership in ideas, or anything like that.

While sorting some of my important papers in a new container that I can grab in case a fire or other emergency would force us to leave our house on short notice I looked at my papers. One, probably the most important one, read: “Resident Alien Form I-551”.

A quick check of the definitions of the term “alien” in Merriam Webster’s dictionary provides this explanation:

Alien: differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility”.

It’s amazing but totally fitting. That’s how I feel and why I think it is increasingly important to not only think about retirement investing in financial terms but also in environmental terms.

If you, like me, feel that there is increasing incompatibility between your beliefs, your goals in life, and the environment you live in, you should find better environments.

That’s what I have started to do. I know what my financial capabilities and numbers will be. Now I need to find a place where what I like in culture and ideas and “vibe” are present.

Luckily there are more and more postings and articles and websites we can all use to find where we can live for a certain amount of passive income per month.

Don’t sit back and let the future happen to you. Take charge, be the creator of your future and chase your goals.

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