As psychologists, we know that money can’t by you happiness. But that doesn’t mean that money isn’t important. We need money for survival. We need it for self-growth. We need it for our medical, health, and long term care needs. We need it for college, our kids, and so on.
Some people dedicate their entire adult lives to making money. They “grind,” working 60+ hour weeks to save and accumulate as much wealth as they can. If you ask a person like this why they’re working so hard, they often mention that one of the main reasons they accumulate as much wealth as they can is because they want as much money as possible “for retirement.”
This is a mistake.
No one can predict the future. 15% of American Adults will not even live to be 65. Millions more will reach age 65 in poor health, or without the mobility and energy levels they need to appreciate retirement. Once they’ve hit age 65, the mortality rate increases considerably, which means even those that reach retirement may not be able to enjoy it for very long.
Mortality rates also only tell one part of the story. Your life will be richer, healthier, and happier when you engage in more experiences. Time is not only finite, but it actually feels like it speeds up as you get older. Time you’ve spent working is time you will not be able to get back and use on things like vacations, memories with friends and family, and even special purchases that you can make now that will only mean something to you when you’re younger.
This is not to imply that making money is not important. But it is important to recognize that making money is only a sensible goal if it is to augment your current life AND future. Working hard to make money has to be only a part of your current story, as you also find ways to maximize the time you have and enjoy as much as you can, when you can.
Part of our therapy services center around this idea of a better work/life balance. But when we talk about the “life” part of this, we’re talking about not only whether we spend time with our families, but also that we’re recognizing the importance of appreciating life now as a whole, and not living for an imaginary future that may never come.