I posted this originally in 2015, and again in 2019, but there are a lot of new people on the board who might be able to profit from it, so here it is again, slightly improved.
I was recently looking through my 50th Anniversary college yearbook, in which I had answered the question: What have you learned in the fifty years since graduation? This was my response, if any one is interested.
What have I learned in the fifty years since graduation? It’s probably too late to really benefit my classmates, and the younger people who might actually benefit probably won’t read this, but here goes:
The one asset you have that is priceless is your youth. Money doesn’t compare. It’s incomparably better to be thirty and have a hundred thousand dollars than to be seventy and have five million. It may be nice to have the five million, but there is nothing you can do with it that will give you the pleasure of being thirty. Therefore, profit from every day and don’t waste a single one.
The second most important asset is your health. Take care of it. And, don’t wait to retire until you have lost your youth and health and are too old and tired to enjoy starting a new life. No one on his or her deathbed ever says, “I wish I had spent more time in the office.”
True happiness consists in being content with what you have, not in getting what you think you want. It’s incredibly important to think about this seriously and at length and understand it. You will not suddenly become happy in getting a new car, a bigger house, a new piece of jewelry, or whatever. In three months, the wonderful new car will just become “the car”, guaranteed!
Having a good relationship is tremendously important. Relationships are never perfect, but in a good one you should have a feeling of satisfaction and contentment. If you feel tense, put down, or attacked most of the time, it’s time to leave. It’s the same for jobs. There is an inertial tendency to stay in a bad relationship or a bad job and to subconsciously think, “In my next time around, I’ll be happy and live the way I want.” There is no next time! Don’t waste five, ten, or fifteen years. You don’t get them back to live again. Do it differently now, this time.
I hope that you are all reasonably content and in as good a state of health as can be expected.