"Just five more hours until the weekend. I can hardly wait."
"Just five more weeks until my vacation. I can hardly wait."
"Just five more years until retirement. I can hardly wait."
Whenever you catch yourself saying something like this, it's time to stop and evaluate things. If you are thinking this way too often it means that you are not living a meaningful life in the present. Your work life has become a burden and you are dreaming of escape.
The thing is, the escape you are dreaming of is usually short-lived or an illusion. The weekend will be over before you know it. The vacation will be a collection of photos and memories before long. As for retirement, well, the fact is we get old quickly in our advancing years, so you don't want to wait until then to really start living.
To me retirement is about doing what you love. If you are living with passion and doing the things you love, while also embracing the things you don't necessarily enjoy but recognize as important, you're living a retirement lifestyle. You have to ask yourself, " If money were not an issue, what would I be doing?" If the answer is, "What I'm doing right now," then you have arrived. Loving what you do means that you are always living in the moment instead of waiting for that better moment that always seems to be in the future. Loving what you do every day is an ideal worth pursuing and it is a mindset you can cultivate.
In that sense, I am happy to say that even though I come in to work every day, I have been retired for years. It hasn't been about money for a long time. I do what I do because I love it and I couldn't imagine not doing it. And when you work with a sense of passion, the economic rewards naturally follow. Because I embraced this principle early in my career, I am able to retire today if I chose to. That success came as a result of the love for what I do.
The point is, if you don't feel that way about what you're doing – if you don't feel like you are retired already, if you're not energized about the possibilities every day brings, and excited and grateful for the opportunity to engage with them – something is wrong and you need to address it. You shouldn't just bear with it and wait for the next "escape."
Life is short. It's much shorter if you only live it on weekends.