learning about the game of life

The Game of Life is a lot like The “Game of Life”

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I had the pleasure of playing a few rounds of The Game of Life several years ago when I was dating a woman who had a young son. This version of the game had been simplified for Kids. The real life choices were even more clear.

  1. College or Trade School
  2. Marriage
  3. Kids
  4. Retire

And just this outline for life has me reflecting on a millennial woman I met recently who was wearing a t-shirt that said, RETIRED. I asked her about it. She got testy. She later referred me to the link on the back of the shirt. A young financial guru, her guru, was leading this META GOAL: retire so you can do what you want to do when you want to do it.

Okay, but this lady was all of 22 years old. And retirement was her goal? Hmm. I think she missed a few steps on the path. She was obviously well-educated. Ambitious. And goal oriented. We exchanged a few more witty remarks. I found her on LinkedIn and discovered we were both in the UX business. And from her IG I also learned that she was fond of one certain woman and sticking her tongue out for the camera. I guess it’s a sign.

What I didn’t “get” was this push for retirement by a woman who had just started her life journey.

  1. College – CHECK
  2. Marriage – OPTIONAL
  3. Kids – NO THANK YOU (based on a comment she made)
  4. Retire – FINALLY HAPPY

What Is Your Goal In LIFE?

I don’t know about you, but my life goals look a little different. They are still highly informed by my decisions on the path of Life, but my GOAL is not retirement.

The same guy who wrote What Color is Your Parachute, wrote another important book, The Three Boxes of Life. And, my outline for this article is

  1. Learning Phase of Life (school)
  2. Earning Phase of Life (work)
  3. Living Phase of Life (retirement)

But here’s the thing. This guy is saying that the boxes are a trap. We get tricked into thinking this is the path of life. In fact, he advises you, to learn to jump between boxes as it suits you. For example, at 50, if you’re not happy with your job, get retrained on something different. Or, when you’re laid off from a job, take six months off to (retire) before you rejoin the workforce.

I often wonder what my goal in life is. Here are a few ideas, still under advisement.

  • Finding contentment along the path of life
  • Loving my kids and my primary relationship
  • Creating meaningful and lasting works of art or music
  • Staying fit and active long into my 90s
  • Crushing and growing beyond all regrets

I don’t know if I got any of these right. What is your GOAL? My guess is “retirement” is not on your list. I mean, in theory, I completely understand this guru’s zeitgeist. Sure, retirement must be the goal, because retirement is when you get to do what YOU want to do. Is that it? Is it that hedonistic? That misguided?

I wanted to continue the conversation with this young woman, but she was more touchy and defensive than I would’ve expected. She seemed so confident in her pride-focused IG account. Perhaps my demographic was the antithesis of her idea of happiness. White, male, with kids. Old.

Here’s the thing about growing old: the alternative sucks.

If you were to design your own board game called The Game of My Best Life, what choices would you make early in your life? What changes would you implement if you knew what you know now when you were in middle school? How would your life improve if you had the wisdom that you have now? How would your life be different if you focused on happiness and fulfillment as a part of life and not a goal for retirement?


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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