I imagine you have heard the term “YOLO.” It is common to see articles or personal finance books that explore this concept. YOLO is an acronym for You Only Live Once. The basic premise of YOLO is we’d better live for today, since tomorrow may never come.
“Memento mori” – A Latin phrase which translates to “Remember that you have to die.”
We all will eventually die and have but one chance to live our life. I don’t know about you but that sounds rather gloomy to me.
This awareness can easily manifest itself in our daily actions. It can attack us much like the flu. How does one contract this YOLO virus? What are the early symptoms and is there a cure? How do you live with this YOLO mindset?
Can we leverage this YOLO principle and turn into our own secret weapon to live our remaining time to the fullest? Let’s take a closer look at this topic to see how living this way can bring about unexpected consequences.
YOLO: You only live once
I find it interesting when I hear people make the comment, “If I die then X will happen.” What do they mean when they say “IF I die”? Here is a newsflash—there is no “if” in this equation.
Optimism refuses to believe that the road ends without options.
—ROBERT H. SCHULLER, Don’t Throw Away Tomorrow
Of course, we could explore the philosophical question of IF there is another life after this one to get a better understanding. I think it is best to leave that discussion to the theologians. Depending on your religious beliefs, perhaps there is another life for you after this one. Let us assume that we have only one life on Earth. It is time to take full advantage of the time we have.
Both my parents were disabled with health issues
I have struggled with this YOLO notion for the last decade or so. My wife and I have reached a point where we could live frugally with our nest egg for the rest of our lives. We have saved, invested, and dreamed of becoming financially independent earlier than the traditional age of 67.
Many of my family members passed away at early ages. My father died at 73 and my maternal grandfather at 65. Two years ago, my mother entered a nursing home due to her health problems. How do I watch from the sidelines as health issues affect our family, without expecting to have a similar outcome?
Is this a glimpse of my own future? Should I expect to have less than twenty years of illness-free life to pursue my passions? This is a factor that is weighing heavily on our planning and decision-making discussions about when we should retire. We fully realize that these emotions and biases are affecting our judgements, yet we cannot seem to overcome them. We have contracted the YOLO bug.
Waiting for your financial ship to arrive
There are many people hinging their dreams on the proverbial financial “ship to come in.” Maybe it will occur with an inheritance, winning the lottery, or by pure chance. Many are postponing their lives waiting for that someday to appear. Our ship has arrived, however we are delaying our own retirement.
When that special someday does come, the experience may not be like anything like we expect. A simple Internet search reveals rags-to-riches-to-rags stories about the effect money had on lottery winners. A common outcome is the mismanagement of their money, losing it in a few years, or being confronted with bankruptcy as an only option.
If one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere. –Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
If waiting for your ship to come in doesn’t change anything, why not start fully living your life right now?
Why continue working?
Do we have enough to live the rest of our lives and be able to feed and provide shelter for ourselves? Following the blogger community, I notice that most frugal-minded people in their twenties and thirties feel that $700K to $1M will be enough to live well for the rest of their 50-year retirement. We passed by that milestone years ago but still don’t feel that is enough.
To get away from one’s working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one’s self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change. –Charles Horton Cooley, Human Nature and the Social Order
We see stories of people who have abandoned their work to pursue their passions full time. The Kaderli’s are a couple that exited their careers at age 38 to pursue their shared appetite for travel. There has been no second-guessing their decision since that leap of faith. To me, that is exciting. We know that it is possible to achieve big dreams based on many of the people we read about.
Live for today. Today.
We have all heard the statement that we should live for the moment.
“Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.”
Seize the present; trust tomorrow e’en (even) as little as you may.
What would be wrong with committing fully to that course now, never doubting our decision or the direction we choose? If we want that dream home or car, buy or rent it now. Start planning that world cruise, the trip to Australia or Fiji.
If you want to reach out to people and make new friends, do not wait another day. If you wish to speak German or any other language fluently, start lessons today. Begin to explore your music and perform live for others.
Offer your time and money to charities that are important to you. Become a volunteer. Now is the time to tick the boxes on the bucket list.
We cannot forget that, after all, you only live once. Live every day as if it were the last. Drain your bank account to zero on a daily basis, because tomorrow may not be there for you. This is an extreme view but maybe we need to embrace it.
Living the YOLO way
For today, I am thinking about what YOLO-related changes I can make in my life (like the ones listed above) while I continue to work at my job… ” in order to reach early retirement”.
I have been exploring the YOLO concept from an extreme black and white perspective, suggesting throwing all caution to the wind.
The very act of typing these words was enjoyable and invigorating, visualizing the hope of adopting the YOLO attitude. I can embrace the idea of not working one more day in our jobs while our dreams continue to be deferred to the future.
This inevitably leads to the next progressive step in this thought process. What is the BEST thing that could happen if I left my work next month? Perhaps I would be pursuing the hobbies and interests that I have put on hold for so many years. I would continue visiting the places on my bucket list. I would spend my time living in the present moment. Opportunities would present themselves in ways I could not have imagined.
You probably can see that I struggle with this idea. There was no intention to present a balanced approach to this article by introducing work-life balance and other middle-of-the-road approaches. I merely wanted to visualize pursuing my passions with the limited time remaining. Maybe I need to do this now.
Do you struggle with YOLO and the desire to chuck everything to pursue your dreams?
Is it possible to fully live a YOLO lifestyle?