Discontentment in Victory

Discontentment in Victory

February 27, 2024

I have never been shy about my affinity for University of Michigan football. Watching games on college football Saturdays with friends and family is one of my very favorite pastimes. Some of my best childhood memories are going to the Big House with my dad and brothers. Unfortunately, in my lifetime the Michigan Wolverines have often been mediocre at best. Until very recently, the team had not won a national championship since I was a mere 3 years old! So, when the Wolverines beat their bitter rivals (Ohio), won their conference for the 3rd straight season, and advanced to the College Football Playoff I was thrilled! To my great joy (and surprise), Michigan then beat college football juggernaut Alabama in the Rose Bowl and continued on to win the National Championship Game. It was a moment that I had dreamed about as a young boy and it had finally happened! Michigan finally reached the pinnacle of the sport and I got to witness it!

                Yet, while watching the presentation of the championship trophy on TV, I didn’t feel the sense of deep satisfaction that I had expected to feel at that moment. There were no deep feelings of euphoria or, at the very least, contentment in watching the monumental victory of my favorite sports team. In fact, in the weeks following that game I have thought significantly more about the start of the next football season than the ending of the prior one. Definitely a strange reaction for someone who has grown up following the sport their entire life!

                Upon reflection however, my reaction is a somewhat relatable one, isn’t it? How often do we build something up in our minds only to have the reality fail to meet our expectations of grandeur? How often do we set a goal for ourselves and fight and strive to reach it only to find out that we are not nearly as satisfied with the outcome as we thought we would be?

When I thought about my relationship to Michigan football, I realized that what makes watching the team so enjoyable is how I get to spend time with the ones that I care about. We talk about the team, we cheer them on from the stands, we have tailgate parties and eat way too much food, all of which gives us a reason to spend time together. Have you ever thought that maybe your job is a little bit like that? Your job might be hard but working and making an income allows you to do things like buying a home or going on vacation with your family. Perhaps you don’t love the work you do but I am sure that you love things that your job makes possible!

When I speak with clients who are nearing retirement my natural question for them is what do they plan to do when they are no longer going to work? I often joke and ask if they are planning to, “lay on a beach somewhere”. Sometimes the answer includes some sunbathing and that is totally fine! There’s no shame in wanting to spend a little time relaxing in the sun after decades of hard work. But I always encourage my clients not to let the plan end there. One of my favorite sayings (which I plagiarized from my father) is, “don’t just retire, retire to something!” The point being that everyone needs a purpose in life and spending all of your time relaxing on a beach doesn’t exactly fill that need. I have spoken with people before who have reached their goal of having enough money to retire and then do so without having something else to occupy their time. Most of the time those folks are plagued by boredom or, worse yet, loneliness. For many people the word “retirement” simply means to cease working full time for the rest of your life. If that is where the definition stops then “retirement” can’t really be a goal in and of itself.

                To go back to my earlier example, I felt discontentment when my favorite team finally reached their ultimate goal. Not because I wasn’t happy for them, disappointed in the outcome, or didn’t enjoy watching the games all season. The reason I felt that way was because the season was over! I was going to have to wait another 9 months to participate in my favorite football traditions with my family and friends again! The reason that I enjoy watching football so much isn’t watching my team win all of their games (although it is certainly more enjoyable when they do) but rather everything and everyone that surrounds that annual tradition.

                When thinking about and planning for retirement, you should think about it less as a goal to attain and more like a transition into the next great phase of life. When you plan for that transition try thinking about all of the things and people that make life enjoyable now. Your retirement plan should be less about quitting your job and more about having more time to do things you are passionate about with the people you care about most.

 

Well, it took a couple of months but I hope you enjoyed the first blog post of 2024! I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed your year thus far! As we begin a new year, we would love to hear from you with your questions and ideas for future blog posts. Send your questions and ideas to Josh or myself:

Alex.Overbeek@lpl.com

Joshua.Overbeek@lpl.com

Lastly, here is a song to help you kick off this week! Enjoy!

Song