For Me, It’s Car Detailing. What’s Yours?

In Articles, Retirement Thinking, Weekly Articles by Adam Cufr

It’s the smell of the carnauba in the wax, the look of a shiny dressed tire, the feeling I get when there’s not a water spot or a stone chip to be found. As odd as this may sound, I feel healthier and happier when my car is fully-cleaned and detailed. In fact, if I didn’t do what I do as a career, I’d like to detail cars all day. The before-and-after is a natural high that never seems to get old for me.

What’s your thing? If you didn’t have to do the work you do to make enough money to retire someday, or if you’ve already retired, what would you love to do with your time that people might think is a bit off-the-wall? (I suppose it doesn’t have to be odd to be your thing, but some of us need a little permission to fly our weird flag.) I fear that we too seldom take an inventory of ourselves to know what we really want to spend our time doing and go through much of life on autopilot instead.

As I was writing this, a good friend happened to stop by and chat for a bit. I asked him the question I’m asking you, “What’s your thing?” He paused, turned his head to the side, and said pensively, “I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I don’t know what my thing is.”In that moment, that pregnant pause, he said so much. And when he confessed that he isn’t sure he has a thing he really enjoys doing, I realized that he may be more honest than I was being with myself. For while I say that I’d like to detail cars all day, I think I’d grow tired of it much faster than I’m admitting. In fact, a dozen cars into this venture, I’d probably start asking myself what I’d rather be doing if I didn’t have to clean cars all day!

This is the crux of the issue, isn’t it? We’re so eager to find contentment that once we seem to have found it, we almost immediately get up and go looking for more contentment. And the cycle continues. We’re restless.

Here’s my overly simplified recipe for contentment: know that contentment is a bit of a moving target. Love golf? Then golf, but know that you’ll eventually wish to do other things. That’s just the deal. But in terms of planning for a successful retirement, please consider that the very thing you’re hoping will make your life complete during retirement will likely not be the same thing you do for enjoyment your entire retirement. We need to do our best to embrace the reality of a moving target. In fact, my plan is to take some of those ‘things’ I’d love to do someday and sprinkle those over my working career rather than waiting to do lots of it later, especially if I know that huge doses of these activities at once may lead to burn-out.

If it’s a beautiful Friday and I can get my work done early, then I’ll spend part of the afternoon cleaning my car…don’t wait. If you hope to golf more someday, carve out a day or two this summer to get out there and golf now…don’t wait. If you love spending time with your new grandbaby, make an excuse to get in the car to get over there and see that baby now…don’t wait! In other words, do smaller doses of the things you love to do now because a large dose much later may not satisfy you anyway, and there may not even be a tomorrow.

So what’s your thing? Maybe a wise answer to that question is, “My thing is: not waiting too long to do fun things.”

All the best,

Adam Cufr Signature

Adam Cufr, RICP®