I don’t know about you, but I’d Rather Die While I’m Living Than Live While I’m Dead.
Perhaps Jimmy Buffett is to blame.I'd Rather Die While I'm Living Than Live While I'm Dead. I blame Jimmy Buffet for my approach to Life. Click To Tweet
Jimmy Buffet’s the one who first embedding that thought into my brain. The year was 1981 (my Senior Year in High School), when Jimmy Buffett released his song “Growing Older But Not Up” which includes the infamous “I’d Rather Die While I’m Living” line in the chorus. Since I first heard that line, it’s become a mantra of sorts for how I’ve chosen to live my life.
If you’re not familiar with the song, I’d suggest you scroll ahead to the 1:40 mark in the video below to hear Mr. Buffett sing it for you (CAUTION: It may penetrate your brain, and cause you to rethink your approach to life.)
What “Die While I’m Living” Means To Me
To me, the essence of that sentence is its symbolism regarding how we choose to live our lives. It’s a decision each of us make every day, whether we’re aware of it or not. Are we choosing materialism, or are we pursuing those things that really matter in life? Focus on experiences, relationships, adventure. Focus on living life.We all decide, every day, how we're going to live our life. Are you Dying While You're Living, or Living While You're Dead? Click To Tweet
I’ve always been intentional in my decision to “Die While I’m Living”. That sentence requires some explanation, however, to better demonstrate what I mean (and what I don’t).
In a nutshell, to Die While You’re Living is nothing more than seeking to live your life fully during your time on this little marble we call Earth. To seek opportunities. To experience new things. To push our comfort zones. To continually grow. To pursue the things that make you Alive.
Perhaps some examples will help shed some light, along with some links to articles I’ve written on related topics:
- Working In Yellowstone while in college (The Narrow Path)
- Taking a 7,000 Mile journey via train (What I Learned From A 7,000 Mile Train Journey)
- Taking all of our vacation time while employed (Did You Take All Your Vacation This Year?)
- Having a well-rounded approach to life, including fitness & spirituality (The 10 Commandments Of Retirement)
- Taking time to hike with friends (7 Ways Hiking Is Like Planning For Retirement)
- Pushing Yourself to Tackle the Tougher Mountain Bike Ride (Living Life At The Limits)
- Pursuing A Dream, like swimming in really cold water in London (Achieving A Dream)
- Pursuing a career which allowed me to travel the world (5 Ways Retirement Is Like An International Flight)
- Taking time to go kayaking with my wife (The River)
Bottom Line: To “Die While I’m Living” means that you live your days intentionally, making time to do the “important things” that make you feel alive. It Means Enjoying Life. It means avoiding (or minimizing) the things that make you feel like you’re “Living While I’m Dead”, like lingering eternally at a job you despise.
What “Die While I’m Living” Does NOT Mean
Dying while you’re living could easily be misinterpreted. Don’t jump to conclusions, and assume it means a reckless approach to a dangerous lifestyle. Quite the opposite, actually. “Die While I’m Living” does NOT mean:
- Careless Risk Taking
- Lack Of Self Control
- Retiring Before You’re Ready (see “One More Year”)
- Living Without Health Insurance
To Die While We’re Living does not mean doing stupid things that endanger our lives. It does mean, however, looking at the things that are detracting from your Joy in life, and challenging yourself to change things. To improve your situation. Find ways to improve your life, and focus on being content (my first post!) in those areas you can’t change.
What It Means For Retirement
So, what does “Die While I’m Living” mean for your retirement? After all, this is a retirement blog, right? As I write these words, I’m excited about applying that attitude to our new life in retirement (four months in, by the way, and loving every minute of it). For the first time in our lives, we have the Freedom to do those things which excite us, while being able to better avoid those things that don’t (good riddance, commute into the City!).
In my view, retirement is a golden opportunity to pursue a “Die While I’m Living” approach to Life. Done responsibly, retiring allows you to pursue those things which fire you up. Those things which bring you Passion. Those things which mean “Living”, whatever that means for you. The earlier you can get to retirement, the more years you can have of “Living”. Don’t work longer than you must, unless work is “Living” for you. For some, it is, and I’m ok with that. For me, it’s not.
So, I retired.It's Not The Years In Your Life That Count. It's The Life In Your Years. Abraham Lincoln Click To Tweet
Some examples of how you can apply the “Die While I’m Living” mindset to retirement:
- Taking advantage of your Time Affluence to do things that bring Purpose to your life.
- Find a way to fill previously “Live While You’re Dead”-time with things that bring you excitement.
- Find a Passion in which you can invest your newfound Freedom (like doing Dog Rescue)
- Make a Bucket List, and include things beyond travel (personal development, spirituality, etc.)
- Be Intentional in Moving Yourself From Good To Great.
- Make, and Keep, your own version of 10 Commandments Of Retirement.
- Or, one of my favorites, go camping!
As you prepare for your retirement, build a plan to accommodate the things that most bring you Life. If you love to go camping, make a plan to buy a camper. If you like to be on the water, figure out how to get a kayak for you and your spouse. Like to travel? Study up on travel hacking. Prefer to focus on the spiritual side? Use your newfound free time to get more involved with your church or a favorite charity. Like the woods? Get a mountain bike. You get the idea. Don’t miss the opportunity to Live Life that retirement provides. Just Do It.
“…Retirement…means complete Freedom to be the best, most powerful, energetic, happiest and most generous version of You that you can possibly be.” Mr. Money Mustache
As I do my “final edit” on these words, it’s interesting to think about how I’ve “Lived While I’m Dying” over the past few weeks. Two weeks ago I had a wonderful cold water swim in a nearby mountain lake. The next day I went mountain biking in Tennessee. Last week, my wife and I went camping in a State Park in North Carolina. Find ways to Live every day, especially given the freedom that your retirement provides.
Spend some time thinking about what Living means to you, and make plans now to ensure you’ll live your retirement years “Dying While You’re Living”.
After all, it’s the last chance you’ll have to Live before you die.
“Living While You’re Dead”
So, if we’ve determined what “Die While I’m Living” is, what does the opposite look like?
While it may be hard to put a specific description on “Living While You’re Dead”, I think we all know it when we see it. Some ideas which come to mind as I write…
- Putting up with that dreaded commute…
- For a job you don’t like…
- To earn money…
- To buy things you don’t need…
- To impress people you don’t like.
Overly simplistic, perhaps, but you get my point. If you’re stuck in a situation which is making you dead, find a way to change it. Start saving more, and buying less. If you hate your job, start talking to some headhunters. Put your line in the water, you may be surprised what you catch. Update your retirement calculators to see how far off you really are from retirement. What can you do to compress that time? Start Living.If you're Living While You're Dead, don't settle. Find ways to change the things you dread, and create things in your life that make you Alive. Click To Tweet
My heart goes out folks who have no choice but to tolerate a job they hate. However, even for those folks who look at retirement as something they can only dream of, I firmly believe there are changes everyone can make to get more “Die While They’re Living” and less “Living While They’re Dead” into their lives. Be creative. Don’t settle.
Why I Wrote This Post
I wrote this post in response to the following comment on my recent post Health Insurance In Retirement: Unsolved. A reader disagreed with my decision to leave my career and retire at Age 55, walking away from a good corporate health insurance plan in the process:
I disagree with the reader, but I appreciate his point of view. However, after weighing the pros and cons, it was an easy decision for me. I’m confident I’ll be able to buy health insurance after my COBRA runs out, and I’ve built a conservative $ estimate into my retirement plan to pay for it.
Life isn’t about health insurance.
Life is about Dying While You’re Living, not Living While You’re Dead.
I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead. Jimmy Buffett may have written those words, but I’ve found it a good philosophy to apply in my life. Live your life doing the things which make you feel Alive, and don’t settle for things that make you dead. Be the “best version of You” that you can possibly be.
We all choose, every day, how we’re going to live our lives.
How are you going to live yours?
Your Turn: So, am I being naive, or is there wisdom in the words of Mr. Buffett? What are you doing to Die While You’re Living? What things are worth tolerating, even if they make you Dead? What makes you Alive?
Let’s chat in the comments…