A few years ago, in my last corporate job, I combined a work day in London starting with an 8am meeting in Holborn, a normal work day and a few drinks with my husband before making it back home for the 9pm nanny hand-over. On both train journeys I noted a group of suited and booted gents aged around late 50s-early 60s. They had bought a couple of M&S beers for the journey home and were having a good laugh. These men have firmly stuck in my brain solely because of my husband’s casual comment as we jumped off the train “God, I hope I’m never one of those guys.” I was surprised. My husband is one of the least judgemental people I know. Also, in my opinion, these gents looked perfectly happy with their lot.
When probed, he told me that he sees these gents sometimes on the early morning train and very often on the late train home. So what?
He explained that he would feel like a failure if he felt forced to still be working as hard as he does now at their age, presumably to earn enough money to sustain a lifestyle. A lifestyle, he believed, these gents had chosen when they were much younger.
This floored me. I hadn’t realised he was thinking so far ahead.
However, I had realised that we had agreed our life priorities early in our relationship. (Actually, this was all his doing in the early days but I was a eager student!)
Over the years we had known each other, we have comprised on some life decisions to enable our love of travel. For example, neither of us have many designer clothes. Neither of us have super flashy cars…or at least not since he helped me realise how much money I was wasting on my corporate company car allowance. We chose a house and a mortgage that we can afford if one of us got ill/pregnant.
Before children we would go on weekend breaks around Europe at the drop of a hat gaining me the office nickname “Judith Charmers”, the 1980s TV travel personality. I was secretly proud. When we had young children we carried on with the last minute jaunts until school holidays messed with both our spontaneity and our budget. Now, like many parents we book most of our holidays up to a year in advance.
Each of us chooses our priorities in life. If we don’t make a choice, someone else makes it for us.
My husband is lucky enough to have known early on that he definitely doesn’t want to be on the commuter train when he is 60. He also makes choices every day to do (or not do) things that will allow him make sure that doesn’t happen. You can be sure that you won’t see him in a bespoke Desmond Merrion suit, Patrick Cox shoes and a Tom Ford man bag on any commuter train any time soon…but that image makes me smile.
Ensuring that you take the early train to work and the late train home when YOU WANT TO, not because you have to requires concentration on your future...today.
If you are interested in reading more on this topic, one of my favourite books on this subject is:
Essentialism - the Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.
If you are short on time, have a listen to the podcast below which is an interview with Greg - it might be enough to check if it is for you or not.
To get more ideas on how your career and life choices impact your future career and life outcomes visit www.midlifeunstuck.com, sign up to my newsletter and contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.