Why humans have it wrong when it comes to time, money, retirement and Happiness!

Human, we are a strange breed of animal. We imprison ourselves, inflict ludicrous rules over our lives and allow social constructs to restrict our freedom. As funny as the analogy might be (an maybe I need to come up with something catchier!!) but something I said to my mum the other day when trying to explain why we are travelling long term really stuck with me. If you saw a bird, with wings to fly them anywhere in the world, with nothing to tie them down, that got up everyday, picked up its little bird sized brief case and sat inside a cage all day before returning to its nest…day in day out until it was an old bird whose wings no longer worked any more…would you question why, find it sad and strange that something with so much freedom and potential wasted its life by flying into a cage everyday. Well, here’s the wake up call – That bird is us, that bird is every human who gives up on their dreams and pretends to be happy all in the name of money.

Why humans have it wrong when it comes to time, money, retirement and Happiness! happy, retire, money, one life, millenials, change your life, dreams, early retirement, don't retire, pension, adventure, honesty, work, jobs, be your own boss, digital nomad, travel long term, remote working

What struck me really is that people take life way way to seriously.

I mean, to paraphrase here, none of us are getting out alive! It might been morbid to talk about the fact that we are all going to die, every last one of us but to me this is actually one of the things most people choose to ignore. Not ignore in the sense that it can be quite a depressing thought, but ignore in the fact that I am pretty sure they think that they have two lives, they take their existence for granted. I mean, why spent all your life in that box, 5 out of 7 days a week until you are 60 when you don’t want to be there. I think people forget that that time is your life too, not just the time you spend outside of work. Trudging off every day to waste their lives on something they hate…all for money.

Why humans have it wrong when it comes to time, money, retirement and Happiness! happy, retire, money, one life, millenials, change your life, dreams, early retirement, don't retire, pension, adventure, honesty, work, jobs, be your own boss, digital nomad, travel long term, remote working

The truth of the matter is that money rules all here. We sacrifice ourselves and ultimately our lives and freedom for it. Now, ok, I know we need money to survive but do we really need to sums of money that are keeping us trapped. The reality is that whether you earn 70,000 a year or 7,000 you still spend those hours of your life working away for basically pointless shit. Over 80% of Americans don’t like their jobs, stressing is killing millions and depression and anxiety are a pandemic of the western world.

Does this make any sense?

People wonder how they can get out, dream of seeing the world, of travelling and being free. But yet allow themselves to become a slave to the system simply because they think they have to. They hate what their live is but make excuses, so many more years and I can retire, I’m not rich enough to travel, but I can’t quit my job after working up to this position…a cage of our own making. We flick ourselves into blind work mode and wish our weeks and years away…but do we ever stop to think that we are just wishing our lives away.

Why humans have it wrong when it comes to time, money, retirement and Happiness! happy, retire, money, one life, millenials, change your life, dreams, early retirement, don't retire, pension, adventure, honesty, work, jobs, be your own boss, digital nomad, travel long term, remote working

Sometimes I think that we are all just hanging around waiting to die, not really knowing what to do with ourselves so we just sleep walking though live. Ticking off the boxes that we are supposed to: School, job, mortgage, kids, retirement…few years of paranoid “freedom”, ill health, death! I see before my eyes the passion of young people drain out of them in their 20s as “real life” bites hard and that job they got for “a few month” until their dream came along is now a soul destroying career they need to pay the bills.

Why humans have it wrong when it comes to time, money, retirement and Happiness! happy, retire, money, one life, millenials, change your life, dreams, early retirement, don't retire, pension, adventure, honesty, work, jobs, be your own boss, digital nomad, travel long term, remote working, via ferrata, switzerland, Nic Hilditch-SHort, Paul SHort,

A few status holidays every year, gadgets, cars on finance and fancy clothes that the growing salary only papers over the cracks of the fact that they have sold themselves short. Sold their dream out for costa coffee every morning, a once in a lifetime Caribbean cruise (where in reality they see nothing), a lump of metal on each finger and a fancy meal each weekend.

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What no one tells us is that we don’t need to sell ourselves out for all this money, we don’t even need half of that money to have an amazing life. You could easily work for a few months to travel the rest of the year. But the system is so engrained in us that this surely cannot be true.

Of course, the bird must go out and catch the worm, build their nest, work in the purest sense. But does the bird stay there all day picking up worm after worm, building nest after nest once they have finished what they need? Or do they stop at what they need to survive and fly free for the rest of the day?

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Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro,

which translated from Latin means “Liberty is not well sold for all the gold”. In other words, all the gold in the world cannot buy my freedom. So why do we insist on selling ours? Why do humans inherently feel the path to happiness lies in money and not in freedom? We confuse the too, we work to live but tell ourselves that it is the other way around. We convince ourselves that in the 9-5 there is such a thing as a work life balance…all the while shelving our passions and our dreams for that very job.

When will humans learn?

It’s not our obligation to graft our lives away for someone else. It isn’t a predesignated path that we have to follow to a life of misery and “putting up”. We don’t need to sell our best years to be vindicated. We can still work, but we can do it on our own terms.

What is the sense in sitting in an office throughout the peak years of your life?

Growing older and older whilst staring at those same 4 walls and that same computer screen. Full of energy and dreams that get beaten down every day by those early mornings, the commute, your bosses insistent complaining, the moaning of your colleagues and clients you have to put on a fake smile for? You sit there, watch your life pass before you marking it only in the holidays and weekend that you wished your life away for.

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Retirement eventually at the age of 65…finally you have worked your way to freedom. But now, you are old, your bones ache, your dreams have been forgotten and your energy evaporated. Struck down by cancer at 69, like a few I know, were those 4 years of “freedom” really worth sacrificing your life for. Laying down on your death bed will you think about your boss or the things you really wish you did, the places you wish you had gone too?

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Or will you even get to retire? Some have had saving that took them 40 years to build wiped out over night by the financial crisis, chunks of value taken off their houses and that security that they built around them crumble. The age of retirement is creeping up higher and higher each year. What chance does a 20 something even have of eventually retiring in the conventional sense?

Ok, so quitting your job to travel the world is not a one size fits all solution.

But consider this, work towards making a life out of your passions rather than settling into a career you are indifferent about and having to fit a life into your spare time.

You only have one life, so go for broke.

At the end of the day the corporate world will always be here, mortgages and mediocre jobs will be available for you to fall back on. But don’t give in too soon, don’t think that you have made your bed already. Follow your heart, follow your passions. Whether that is travel, climbing, art, skateboarding, football or whatever…most often it’s not going to really be accounting or archiving really is it! Don’t sell yourself out too soon, you are capable of so much more than you think. Little old you…you can have an extra ordinary life if you put all your effort and energy into that…not getting that report finished by Tuesday!

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Go out there, push yourself and realise that the safety net you thought was there in the corporate or mainstream world is a lie to keep you trapped! Work in bars here and there, fund your passions but most of all make sure your life is about them and not about the work! Concentrate on what makes you truly happy, in the deepest part of your heart, wear your heart on your sleeves and don’t be afraid to express yourself and be yourself.

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The trick is to be brutally honest with yourself and those closest to you…and never settle for second best. So many out there are afraid to do just that, they knowingly avoid their dream because it is too much of an upheaval…they have fallen foul of comfort over happiness. That’s the issue, too many of us think that it is the same thing, only, comfort is easy, it is excuses and laziness. Happiness is being proactive, is doing something scary and pushing yourself!

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Happiness is scary, comfort sells…bigger houses, bigger TV’s, take outs, moving to the suburbs, holidays in which we jump from one insulated bubble to another rather than experience real cultural challenges and experiences. Don’t surrender yourself to becoming another docile follower!

This is your life, your time…go do something amazing with it. Get out of that box the world made you think you belong in, stop being jealous and go make those dreams a reality…

What have you got to lose? I know what you have to lose if you don’t!!

nic, paul, hilditch-short, Why humans have it wrong when it comes to time, money, retirement and Happiness! happy, retire, money, one life, millenials, change your life, dreams, early retirement, don't retire, pension, adventure, honesty, work, jobs, be your own boss, digital nomad, travel long term, remote working

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Nicola Hilditch-Short

Nic is one half of the Roaming Renegades, a passionate traveller, climber, adventurer, photographer and artist who has a B.A in Fine Art and M.A in Design & Art Direction.
  • Agree that you shouldn’t spend time working in a job you hate – definitely not the path to happiness! Luckily I really enjoy my job, so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my life sat at my desk – I’m doing something I love :-). I do love travelling and experiencing new things, but I’m far too much of a homebody to do it full time!

    • You are lucky that you love your job but I still don’t think there is a “proper” job out there that I could love enough to give up so much time for to be honest. I think the majority of people don’t like what they do but they feel obliged by society to do something they hate everyday.

  • I’m in that bind at the moment and really trying to create my own life while being able to survive financially. It’s tough and though I really do want to travel full time, I’ve done the whole life abroad thing for 5+ years and trying to make a go of it at home. Opportunities are there for sure but in my case, it’s tough to get on the ground running as they say. Time will tell.

    Love the bird analogy you used at the beginning. Really enjoyed reading this altogether. Thanks for sharing, Nic.

    • Thank you! I think often the most important think is that you know you are in that and honest with how you feel, that is the only way you can start to do something about it. You can’t often either just pack it all in over night either, we have had to work and plan for years but ultimately it is about following your heart and letting the rest just work itself out. All the best, Nic

  • So very true, but money remains and important component of Life and there’s no way around it. We can however choose the when and how much and that should be enough at the end of the day. It’s easier for some to leave the rat race, and a little more difficult for some others but never impossible as is popularly projected. We are wasting our youth for the dreams of our parents, the future of our children, the norms of society and sometimes even for the hope of a better retirement, one that never comes.

    • Yes exactly! We waste time fulfilling what others thing we should do or what we think we have to do because it is normal. Money is needed of course, but it doesn’t need to be what controls and traps us! Great to hear from someone else who “get it!”

  • Myles Davies

    Brilliant blog, thanks. We’ve made the decision to leave The Matrix and all it represents for an authentic life where we can be free to express ourselves within our own rules and experience the world as it was intended. We want to be free to define ourselves without the limitations that life’s ‘normality’ dictates and want to be a slave only to our own beliefs and allow those limiting ones to dissolve. Money can be a vehicle and is most certainly not the engine. We are the drivers and our happiness comes from within through gratitude, mindfulness and an open, loving heart. What great travel (life) companions they are. Better than any diamonds or Porches.

    • YES! I love that and I love that there are other people out there doing the same thing, if we all challenge normality then what is normal will surely change. That’s inspiring! Best of luck!

  • Travelling Chingrita

    Love your posts, but gotta say that I am of the same train of thought. I only got to it this past summer after a medical emergency on an airplane. Why are we all so caught up with buying the new shiny thing? I guess, I work in an industry where that’s kinda part of the culture.

    Quite true, quitting a job isn’t for everyone, and certainly isn’t mine but I like the balance of both. Working in a job I love and travelling, sure the time I have is limited but I will be honest.. I make the best of the time I got. Time isn’t something I can get back and spend it with the people or the things I care about most. No more fake smiles, no more doing things because I should and more importantly, doing everything that makes me happy.

    • Some times it does take bit events to shake what is important into perspective. We do need to all stop pretending and start making whatever changes, big, small, crazy or seemingly impossible, to make ourselves happy in the time we have!

  • “I think that we are all just hanging around waiting to die, not really knowing what to do with ourselves so we just sleep walking though live.”

    You’re quite right throughout, of course, but I think the sentence above rises above and beyond. It’s all a social construct and all pretty unnecessary, which many of us say fairly regularly, but you’ve touched no something more with that quote: for many it’s also the only option in view. ‘What else would you do if you didn’t get up and go to work in the morning?!’

    • Yes I think so many people can’t even see that there might be any other option out there. We are so programmed to giving our time to other people that any are actually really confused by what we mean or what we are doing. They think the only option if you don’t have a “job” you are automatically homeless! Crazy how conditioned people are.

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  • Really great post. I can associate with this, really. An ordinary life does not interest me, and possessions weigh me down.

    Crystal recently posted… How to Kill a Man with Your Bare Hands

    • Thank you! Yes for a long time I hadn’t realised what I was dissatisfied with but then I realised that I couldn’t settle for ordinary either! We want an extra-ordinary life and what is wrong with that!

  • Dead on Renegades! I dig the bird analogy too. I have been traveling the world for ’bout 5 years. Never knew how bound I was until I began globe trotting. Then I surrounded myself with more free spirits and realized this: my life is about having fun and being free. I do fun, freeing stuff. Business-wise. Life-wise. All-wise. I trust in the Universe to keep on supporting me, and it is so. LOVE the message guys!!!

    • Thanks Ryan, it means a lot for us for someone so successful in this lifestyle to have commented on this post! We take a lot of inspiration from the likes of yourself to realise that it is possible and we should just go for it! I agree, too many people forget that life should be fun first and foremost rather than a hard graft! Cheers Dude!

  • Gordon Johnstone

    Very good. Got it spot on there.

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  • Going Nomad

    How refreshing to hear someone in their 20’s with this attitude. Normally this thinking comes after you have already sold your soul and spent many years on the mousewheel before discovering you are just going around in circles. My son is in his 20’s and I am trying to encourage him to see the world. But he is working, has just set up home with his girlfriend, and never likes to be away from home even on holidays for any more than one week.

    Yet it is him who encourages me to change as I see him make the same mistakes I did. He also says that we will only ever regret the things we don’t do! His problem is lack of ambition and dreams brought about by the culture that we live in which surpress such thinking in favour of compliance from an early age.

    It is even more important than ever for young people to re-assess their lives. Industry in the UK has been decimated in favour of call centres and retail which means the jobs of today do not even offer any constructive value to the world. We have a nation where everyone has a degree (and the associated debt) only to be able to get a job in Tesco stacking their shelves.

    • Thank you very much for this great response. It is something we are really quite passionate about but putting that out there can leave us open to people passionately disagreeing too. When I see such a long comment I do wonder if we are going to get ripped into. But I stand firm with the belief that settling down, especially in your 20’s, and settling into a preprogrammed way of living is just not the best way to get the most out of live. It certainly isn’t the life for me, and going against that isn’t easy either. But as you said, I would rather get out there and try it than wonder what else is out there when half my life has already passed before me. You are right too, it seems that even more we are being treated as low value commodities, where is the future in that. We need to create a new one!

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