Grandson #2… graduated. Hard for me to believe. It just doesn’t seem that long ago that C.Z. was still snuggled in his mom’s arms. And strangely for me, it didn’t seem all that long ago that I was graduating, myself. Time and memory are funny that way, I guess. Years seem to evaporate with the occurrence of a single momentous event.
For Deb and me, it was great being there in Dallas with him to share the experience, and we took advantage of our time with him to do a little catching up from the past months. And as we did, it became clearer to me that some things just don’t change much from generation to generation. The nervous anticipation and excitement as the graduation ceremony approached. That sense of pride, accomplishment. The finality that comes with the receiving of the diploma. Those more subtle emotions lingering under the surface comprised of an odd mixture of enthusiasm with an element of sadness… that life is about to change in a big way… and a sobering awareness creeping in that it’s all up to “me” now. I distinctly recalled having had those feelings so many years ago and watched and listened as C.Z. went through all of them, too.
By the following morning, the intensity of those spontaneous feelings seemed to have subsided a bit. I began to perceive in him a change, albeit subtle… a more serious, more mature, productive mindset… a certain sense of determination and accountability that comes with newfound freedom as he began to talk about the weeks and months ahead.
Freedom. In a country where we’ve grown up with it and really know no alternative, I sometimes think the power that underlies its true meaning can get lost in the busyness of everyday life. Merriam-Webster defines freedom as “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”.1 It’s a simple concept really, yet it’s profound. For my grandson, I believe the personal responsibility that true freedom requires of us was slowly starting to sink in for him. For C.Z., graduation was his Independence Day.
C.Z.’s made his plans. He’ll soon be shipping out for basic training to begin his new career and continue his education. As for Debi and me, we’ve threatened him to stay in touch with us as often as he can and promised to be there for his next graduation.
In the meantime, Deb and I will be taking our annual Independence Day pilgrimage to Newport Beach for a little downtime… breakfast at Charlie’s Chili by the 21st St. pier, our long evening walks on the boardwalk. I think we’ve earned it. After all, we’ve planned and saved carefully for it all year. I guess in a way, it’ll be our Independence Week.
How about you? Have you spent time planning for your Independence Day? Not graduation or vacation. I mean your BIG Independence Day. The day you retire. It’s a momentous event, too.
But it’s actually a sort of graduation too, isn’t it? All the work, the years of effort, culminate in that single day. And I guess some things just don’t change much from generation to generation, do they? The nervous anticipation and excitement as the day approaches. The sense of pride and accomplishment. The finality that comes as you walk out of the office for the last time. Emotions lingering under the surface, that odd mixture of enthusiasm and sadness that life is about to change…
I’ve written and spoken often about the roll emotion can play in making prudent decisions and I can tell you with considerable experience that relegating planning for one’s financial independence in favor of the busyness of life rarely produces the result we might hope for. The closer that day gets, the greater the impact emotion can have.
If you’re a Boomer, don’t wait until your day is imminent. Do the math. If you’re a Gen X’er or a Millennial (formerly referred to as Gen Y) you have some time on your side, but save aggressively now. The cumulative power of Time and Money are funny that way. Don’t let years evaporate at the expense of your momentous event.
You know, Independence Day, July 4th, was the precursor to an American lifestyle that for two centuries has been the envy of the world. It’s not lost on me that it didn’t come without a price. It was earned through a passion for freedom, strategic planning, and raw determination. I promise you, your personal Independence Day, your financial freedom, is earned the same way. Don’t surrender that to the busyness of everyday life.
Timothy J. Sullivan, Sr.
President, DSA Financial Group, Inc.
DSA Financial Group, Inc. 281-823-5171 www.DSAfinancialgroup.com
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