Father-in-law gave my husband a 36-year-old watch as his birthday present this year. “It cost SGD2,000.00 when I purchased it, but it’s so worthless now that even the thief wouldn’t take it when they broke into my house,” he let out a big sigh. “If I had invested that money elsewhere, I would have so much return now!” He laughed, “Hope you like this gift, though!”
That event created a lasting impression in me because my father-in-law was never a sentimental kind of man. But that evening, he was different. He used that watch as his tool to tell us a story.
His story on life, time, and regrets. Here’s what I remember:-
1. Buying Luxury Goods Is A Bad Investment
My father-in-law bought the watch in hope that it would be a good investment. He mentioned also that he was counting on to the watch to make him magically happier and more attractive, which sadly did not happen. Now 36 years down the road, he thinks it was a bad decision to be spending so much on a piece of material that only tells time.
“In the end, a watch is a watch no matter how much it cost,” he told us.
2. Grow Your Money Right Now
According to him, had he kept the money in a bank account that offers compounding interests or invested in the right stock market, he would have much more than a piece of watch that he doesn’t wear anymore. He advised us to invest our earnings right away no matter how little the amount may be because it takes time for money to make babies too!
3. Time Is The Most Precious Gift We Have
Many Babyboomers traded their time and health for money in their earlier years and are now trading the fortune they made for time and health. It is a cycle that my father-in-law broke free from long before the concept of early retirement becomes popular. He chose to spend his time learning, traveling, and exercising. At his age, he was the oldest student in his swimming class but it did not deter him from learning how to swim. He was also the oldest in his English and dancing classes but he learned well.
“Age is not the problem and will never be. Attitude is everything! Put your pride aside and just have fun!” I love this spirit. We decide whether the time we have is a curse or a gift by what we do with it.
4. Every Decision You Make Now Affects Your Future
If you go to bed late for a day, you may not feel the effect it has on your body. But if you do it for a week, a month, maybe a year, or maybe even more, you will see how irreversible the effect it has on you. And the same is true with many other things we do in life, positive and negative.
If you don’t spend your time with your children now, don’t expect them to have a close relationship with you when they grow up. That is just how life is. The real problem is that we make too many decisions based on our emotion rather the possible consequences our actions would bring.
Change this bad habit and we will have a very different future.
5. Discipline and Consistency Are The Keys To Success At Anything
Practice may not make perfect but it definitely allows you to master the skills that you were working on. Discipline and consistency are the keys. My father-in-law is a man who loves freedom. He enjoys his independence and loves traveling around the globe. This is exactly why he set aside time to work out every day. He holds himself accountable for his own health and fitness. And he is one of the healthiest people in his age group that I know.
6. Busyness Gets You Nowhere
We are all addicted to making ourselves as busy as possible by stuffing our calendar with all sorts of activities. Perhaps such busyness makes us think that our time is well-spent?! Or maybe it makes us feel important about ourselves. But more often than not, busyness is just a sign that we need more focus on our time management and organization.
We cannot jump blindly from tasks to tasks not understanding the objectives we want to achieve!
7. Live While You Still Can
If the quality of life is measured by how long one lives, there wouldn’t be so many sad vampire stories. But living life to the fullest doesn’t mean doing as many things as you can think of. We need more focus and we need to live in present moment. Trying to multitask too much takes meaning out of the things we do and sucks the life out of us. It is the very reason we cannot enjoy life. “Take one step at a time” is still one of the best advice given to me.
Live, be present.
Enjoy every moment of life.