On Thursday, I drove to Birmingham, Alabama.  There, my cousins and I carried my 92-year-old grandfather to his grave.

This week was crazy busy.   Visitors, travel, and a funeral.  I am ridiculously behind in my work.

But, I haven’t been thinking about work this week.

I can’t stop thinking about the end.  This week, the end came for my grandfather.  He got 92 years.  I hope I get 92 years.   If I get 92 years, then I’ve got about 50 years to go.

Here is what I keep asking myself.  What am I going to do with 50 more years?

The truth is, I’ve already got plans for the next 50.  But, this week forced me to re-focus and re-evaluate.

In America, we are given a strange script.  It goes something like this:

  • Stay in school.
  • Buy a car.  (Go into debt.)
  • Go to college.  (More debt.)
  • Get married.
  • Buy a house. (More debt.)
  • Get a job.  (Start paying off the debt.)
  • Stay at a job you don’t like. (Keep paying off the debt.)
  • Retire from the job you didn’t really like.  (Hopefully, you are out of debt.)
  • Buy a condo.
  • Watch the Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune
  • Die.

As I said, it goes something like this.  You will have your own variations, I am sure.

I love my grandfather.  I mean absolutely no disrespect.  He fought for his country.  He took good care of his family.

But, he basically followed the script above.

I suggest a different script.

  • Get out of school.  Homeschool, if you can.  You will free unbelievable amounts of time.  (This is why so many Olympic athletes homeschool.)  Use the extra time to learn a skill.
  • Skip college… unless you are going into engineering or the medical field.  (For crying out loud, do NOT go to college to learn Latin!) Remember that skill you learned in high school?  Use it to start earning a living.
  • If your skill is not paying you, get a job.  Try to get a job related to the skill you love, a skill you want to learn, or a passion you have.  For example, I wanted to learn Latin, so I volunteered to teach Latin.  (I did NOT study Latin in college.  In fact, I should have skipped college.)
  • Buy a used car.  Pay cash.
  • Buy a small house, or condo close to your work.  (You will probably have to go into debt for this.) Walk, or ride a bike to work.  On rainy days, drive your used car.
  • Get married.  Be careful here.  Don’t rush.  Be realistic.  The divorce rate in America is high.  Divorce is unbelievably destructive.  Wait.  Better to be single and miserable than married and miserable.
  • Become a “chicken” entrepreneur.  Work on your side business, or develop your skills before work, after work, and on Saturdays.
  • As soon as the income from your side business passes the income from your job, quit your job.  Continue building your business.
  • Buy another small house or condo.  Rent it out.
  • Keep building your business.
  • Buy a third small house or condo.  Rent it out.
  • Keep building your business.
  • Buy a fourth small house or condo.  Rent it out.
  • Keep building your business.
  • Buy your dream home.
  • Retire, if you want to.

Actually, I see no reason to retire.  The longer you do what you do, the better you will become at that skill.

Are you a writer? Keep writing.  You will improve.   Are you a teacher? Keep teaching.  You will improve.    Are you a photographer? Keep shooting.  You will improve.   I could go on.

Are you behind?  Are you older?  Again, don’t listen to the scriptwriters.   Don’t sit down to watch T.V.   You can re-invent yourself.

Col. Sanders knew he wasn’t going to make it far on a Social Security income.   So, he started Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was 62 years old.

Remember Tony Horton?  He is the guy in the P90x videos.  He is 58 years old.  He launched the famous fitness videos when he was 44 years old.  By the way… he still looks like that.  At 58.

At the age of 56, Dr. Mary Hobson started studying Russian. She became an award-winning translator.  She received her doctorate in Russian when she was 74 years old.

Jacques Barzun is my favorite.  In 2000, he published his magnum opus: From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life: 1500 to the Present.  In 2000, Jacques Barzun was 92.

Worried that time has passed you by?  You’ve got time.  Read Late Bloomers by Rich Karlgaard.

To sum it up.  Ignore the standard script-writers.  Stay small.  Stay lean.  Stay out of debt.  Stay free.

We have one life to live.  It is a gift God has given us.  Don’t let others write the script for you.