By Paul Morrone, CFP®, CPA/PFS, MSA
There wasn’t necessarily one defining moment when I realized I had fully embraced adulthood. You could argue that having children had pushed me over the edge, but even before I hit age 30 I was beginning to settle down. Adulthood has proven itself to be more of a state of mind than feeling or seeing the physical signs of aging. It’s nothing like the transition from being a teenager to going into your 20’s, that’s a jump most are eager to make and look forward to. This one happens far more passively, and you can only realize you’ve crossed the bridge by looking in the rear-view mirror. Last year I reached this inflection point personally, and finally succumbed to the reality that I am, in fact, a grown-up (despite what others may say!). Now part of this may be because of turning 35 last year – yes, still young by many standards – but it’s hard to argue the fact that I’m now dancing the line of middle aged.
There were subtle hints that my priorities had shifted even before I had accepted the reality that I’m in a different place in life than I was in during my 20’s. Nights that would have lingered past midnight were starting to end before the clock struck twelve (as my mom always says, ‘nothing good happens after midnight’). Mornings started earlier on the weekend as I realized that sleeping past 8:30 meant that the day was getting wasted. Even more humbling was the fact that I now seem to judge the success of a night based upon how early I get into bed, not how late I stayed up.
This theme of ‘less is more’ seems to transcend other parts of life as well. In my younger years, dinner was just the precursor to a night out on the town. Now, dinner is the night out on the town. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, because when you’re paying a babysitter by the hour, the ‘cost’ of a late night is more than just a headache in the morning. And that doesn’t even consider the extended recovery times we experience as we age, not to mention the painful thought of caring for children when your head is pounding.
And then there are vacations. The older I get, the more excited I am to go away and do less. Save for a trip to Europe or some other opportunity to ‘see the world,’ a lazy week by the pool is really what I dream of. Don’t get me wrong, I love an action-packed trip to NYC for a night, but given the choice of a 3 day bender in Las Vegas or a thatched umbrella on the beach, I’ll be quite happy in Margaritaville with a frozen drink and a good book. How things have changed!
I think now the more interesting question is ‘what’s next?!’ If it’s a midlife crisis on the horizon, bring it on. I will use any excuse to buy another sports car. But something tells me it isn’t that easy. Maybe the speed of life’s treadmill will change. Maybe it speeds up, maybe it slows down, or maybe the direction changes entirely. Only time will tell. For now, my crystal ball is telling me that a European excursion is not in the foreseeable future. But the future is bright, filled with Saturdays at the baseball field or on the basketball court, and, hopefully, on the golf course.