The Pen is Mightier than the Bored

Dear Rich Lifer,

There’s an interesting adage that goes, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” This is known as Parkinson’s Law, and if you’ve ever worked a 9 to 5, chances are good you’ve experienced this in all its glory. 

Have to turn in a report in two weeks? Well, it’s probably going to take you exactly two weeks to make it happen. 

Need to return an email within 48 hours? You might have gotten it done sooner, but more than likely, you replied after 40+ hours had passed. 

Got to finish the big project because the higher ups are visiting at the end of the week? Well, you’re not alone if you worked all the way until Thursday evening to make it happen. 

Basically, once you’ve got a task and a deadline, you’re going to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

And that sensation is kind of exhilarating. You’ve got something to do, and a finite amount of time to complete it. It’s like a race against time, and even though procrastinating is stressful, in a strange way, it’s also exciting. 

Then Comes Retirement

Instead of the cycle of deadlines and stress…

You’re faced with a relaxing calendar full of…


Days and weeks and months with nothing you have to do. At first, this is so relaxing. 

Take a nap at two? Don’t mind if I do. 

Wake up late and go to brunch instead of the office? Absolutely. 

After a few weeks of this, though… The vast expanse of time isn’t so attractive. 

Instead of feeling refreshed because you have nothing to do…

You begin to feel trapped, and sometimes, gloom sets in. 

Sure, it’s nice not to have any projects on the agenda.  But when there’s nothing at all on the calendar? 

Your whole day begins to feel like, “Why even bother?”

If you’re in this headspace, or you’re about to retire and you want to avoid it entirely, there is something you can do to avoid this feeling of depressed drudgery. 

Instead of filling your days with meaningless activities like watching The Weather Channel… 

Or getting a job as a greeter at Walmart just so you can make conversation with people…

You can schedule and pursue the goals you’ve always had, but never had the time for. 

No matter what they are – from skydiving to opening your own restaurant – you now have the time and the wisdom to make these dreams a reality. 

And it all starts with a pen and a piece of paper. 

It all starts by writing…

A Bucket List 

Now, the term “bucket list” has kind of a negative connotation. Basically, you’re lining up all the things you want to do before you kick the bucket. 

I don’t know about you, but for me, constantly focusing on the moment of my death isn’t a great motivator. 

So instead of calling it a bucket list, I call mine my Rich Life List. 

In essence, when I knew I no longer had to report into an office everyday, I asked myself, “What do I want to do with the 24 hours I have every day? What is important to me…

And in order to achieve those things, what can I get rid of?”

Once I had the answers to those questions, it was on. My mind raced with all the possibilities, and it was like I couldn’t write fast enough. 

Before I knew it, I had a list of dozens of things I knew I wanted to be, do, have, and achieve. 

And ever since that day, I’ve knocked things off my list one by one.

Maybe you’re not quite ready to sit down and knock out a list that will give you a lifetime of memories right this second, but that’s ok. 

I have some tips you can use to get yours started. 

Who knows? Once you actually sit down and start to write, inspiration might strike for you, too!

Writing a Rich Life List

Keep It Wherever Is Convenient

This isn’t the Magna Carta, so you don’t need a special piece of paper to record it all on. Use what you have. If you’re a tiny-notebook-in-the-pocket kind of guy, use that.

 If you’ve got your phone on you at all times, then go with Evernote or another note-taking app instead. Whatever makes it easy for you is the right medium. 

Add As You Go

There’s no rule that you have to write down every last adventure you want to have all in one day, so keep a running document. I personally update mine by seasons. 

If something from Fall Rich Life List 2019 doesn’t happen, then I just move it forward to Fall Rich Life List 2020. If I’m no longer interested in something, I delete it, and if I find something new I want to add, I’ll jot it down as soon as I think of it.

There are no rules to enjoying your time, so don’t make unnecessary restraints for yourself.  

Mix In Big And Small

Not every item on your list has to be “Climb Mount Everest” big. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try the osso bucco at your local Italian place, but you haven’t had a special occasion yet… Here it is. Here’s your special occasion.
Write down all the small things along with all the big things. Seeing the quick wins you get from tackling the little items will spur you along your path. 

Include A Variety Of Things

Don’t just add in things you want to have, or places you want to go. Whenever you review your Rich Life List, think of things you want to be, do, have, and achieve.
You want to be more flexible? Write that down. You want to read a hundred new books? That works, too. You want to finally own the Jag you’ve always dreamed of? You know what to do – add it to the list.

When you focus on multiple methods of progress – being, doing, having, and achieving – your Rich Life List looks less like a shopping list and more like a list of dreams you can actually turn into realities. Change it up and then start tackling them one by one. 

This one small thing – making a list – will 100% change the way you feel about retirement. If you’re tired of waiting for things to happen, it’s time to write your retirement list – time to make things happen. 

Get started. You won’t regret it. 

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

Nilus Mattive

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Nilus Mattive

Nilus is the editor for the daily e-letter The Rich Life Roadmap and a Paradigm Press analyst.

Nilus began his professional career at Jono Steinberg’s Individual Investor Group, where he published his original research through a regular investment column. Later, he worked for a private equity business and spent five years editing Standard and Poor’s...

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