Are you sacrificing your opportunity to live independently in your old age?
We are all familiar with the concept of superannuation. You put money away now, invest it, and whacko the diddle-o, you have enough money to live on in your retirement (at least that’s the theory). Not many of us would disagree with this as a general strategy – investing some money now, for your future financial well-being. Instead of spending money now on handbags, shoes and every latest gizmo, you spend your money on something else – you buy an investment, whatever that may be, nurture it, and reap the benefits.
So what about when it comes to spending time? How do you spend your time? Do you spend it wisely (for the most part), or do you fritter it away on TV watching, internet surfing and social media stalking?
Do you spend your time getting that presentation for work absolutely 100% perfect, when 90% perfect would be just fine? Do you spend your time being the perfect mum, the perfect housewife, the perfect house cleaner? Or maybe you spend your time worrying so much about being perfect that you never actually get started on stuff that you really want to do, because you don’t think you’ll have the time to do it “perfectly”?
The fact of the matter is, whatever you do spend your time on, there is a cost. Not necessarily a financial cost, but the opportunity cost of what you could have been doing with that time. If you’re spending time staying up late at night watching the TV, it could cost you a good night’s sleep. If you spend your time crossing “ï”s and dotting “t”s excessively at work, it might cost you time with your family.
If you spend time exercising, it costs you something. If you’re exercising, you’re not doing something else you could be doing. I guess that’s why people say they “don’t have time to exercise”.
It’s easy to see the opportunity cost of spending time exercising. It’s pretty immediate. Your thoughts might go something like this “I could give up my opportunity to exercise and stay here in my nice warm bed, or I could give up the opportunity to stay in my nice warm bed and spend some time exercising”. Sound a bit familiar?
We tend not to think about the opportunity cost of NOT exercising though.
If you’re not spending time on a regular basis looking after yourself, and that includes exercising, you are missing out on so many opportunities. Some of the opportunities you could be missing out on include maintaining strong bones, maintaining a good sense of balance (both important for independent mobility as you get older), feeling the joy of being able to run- just because you can, having a spring in your step most days, having your body in great working order and feeling like you could conquer the world (or at least your little part of it). You could be missing out on the opportunity of adventure travel, resigning yourself to travelling in tour buses when you’re older, rather than being able to explore foreign cities on foot for hours and hours, trekking in Nepal, kayaking down the Nile –not sure if anyone actually does that, but it might be cool, bike riding in Vietnam…
By not looking after yourself now, you are also putting at risk your ability to live independently as you get older.
By sitting on the couch now, you could be passing up the opportunity to be able to get on and off the toilet by yourself when you’re 80, to determine what you eat and when you eat it. If you’re not able to look after yourself, you’ll most likely be living in a nursing home, with pretty much all of your independence gone. My beautiful aunt, who at 82 lives in a local nursing home, can’t even determine what time she has her pre-dinner brandy. It comes with her dinner, in spite of her asking for it to arrive about 20 minutes before hand.
It’s the really simple stuff that we take for granted, that you could be giving up, by not spending your time wisely now. Exercising on a regular and frequent basis, and eating sensibly, is like making a little payment into your physical wellbeing superannuation fund. A bit of weight bearing exercise to strengthen muscles and maintain bone strength, something to get you huffing and puffing a bit, and some gentle stretching and flexibility movements will help you to get the most out of EVERY year of your life, not just the first 60.
So, are you going to take the opportunity to spend a whole lot of time sitting around on your backside today, or are you going to take the opportunity to contribute to your physical superannuation fund, to strengthen your body to help you lead a happy, energetic and fulfilling life now and when you’re older?
It’s your choice.
Image courtesy of debspoon: freedigitalphotos.net