“They told us to save for retirement. We knew investing, while you’re young, was important.”
He lifted his coffee. The steam swirled in front of his nose. He took a sip and stared out the window.
“But they didn’t tell us about investing in our health. They didn’t tell us we need to make smart financial choices and smart health choices,” he said.
He slowly shook his head while gazing into the parking lot. “We should all be enjoying retirement, but we’re spending as much time with our doctors as our golfing buddies.”
He turned his attention back to me, returned his coffee to the paper coaster and leaned forward.
“Don’t make the same mistake. Learn from us.”
The waiter arrived holding a pot of coffee and balancing ceramic plates on her arm. She put down a plate of scrambled eggs, smothered in orange cheese and flanked by strips of crisp bacon. He pulled the plate to his side of the table. The waiter put the buttered toast next to his plate.
He asked for more cream. I asked for more coffee.
We met once a month for breakfast. The menu changed, but the order was always the same. He ordered cheesy eggs, bacon and toast. I sipped on black coffee.
These were monthly reviews of various ventures. We mostly discussed the progress of projects we were collaborating on. Every now and then, he would slip in sage advice.
Generally, he hid these lessons in funny stories. Stories where he was faced with a simple choice, but somehow still made the wrong decision. At 67 years old, he lived a life full of these fun parables. I’d heard hundreds of them. This one was different. When he delivered this advice without so much as a smile, I immediately felt the gravity of the lesson.
“Learn from us,” he repeated.
I nodded. “I am. I see it with my parents and their friends. Body parts seem to be failing people in their early 60s now.”
He frowned like I wasn’t listening.
“Your generation should be investing in their retirement. You all know that, but I don’t hear enough talk about investing in your health,” he said. “Financial discipline is worthless if you don’t have health discipline. You’ll need your health to enjoy your wealth.”
I couldn’t shake that thought on the drive back to my office. You need health to enjoy wealth. So simple. So obvious. So forgotten.
By most measures, I know a lot of successful Millennials. The majority earned advanced degrees and were quickly ascending their professional ladders. They owned waterfront homes. They drove European cars. They drank rare whiskeys.
They worked hard for their money. But as their bank accounts swelled, so did their waistlines. Their careers moved forward as fast as their hairlines receded backward. They navigated digestion issues, fertility problems, fatigue and early stages of heart disease as they rushed from meeting to meeting.
What price are Millennials paying for success? These people are diligent about creating wealth. The luxury watch. The private schools. The country clubs. All the financial details are thought through. All but one. In their envisioned future, they’re perfectly healthy. Even as their health is quietly starting to decline.
They are all falling into the same trap as our parents. Health becomes fragile. It’s not an annuity that passively appreciates over time. Without proper care, health quickly becomes a depreciating asset. They are planning a detailed future while neglecting the most important detail: You need health to enjoy wealth.
So I’m starting a podcast, WELLTH MGMT, for men and women ready to invest in their future beyond money.
WELLTH MGMT will explore a holistic approach to building a better future. We’ll dive into living well and being well. I’ll share stories, report news and interview experts. All to uncover guiding principles for living your best life every day and extending that life in every way.
Who’s This Podcast For?
Like investing in retirement, the earlier you start the better, but also like retirement, it’s never too late to start.
Ideally, WELLTH MGMT will help people during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. When you are in your late 20s or early 30s, the resiliency of your youth is slowly expiring, but your patterns of bad habits still haven’t accumulated into chronic diseases.
Now is the time to start incremental changes. Regularly investing spare change into the stock market will compound significant returns over decades. Your health is similar. You’re about to learn how simple choices can create small changes that will yield a big impact on your health over time.
You need health to enjoy wealth. If you want to learn about managing your wealth, read The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. If you want to learn about wellness management, subscribe to WELLTH MGMT on Spotify, Apple, Google or anywhere you enjoy listening to podcasts.
Also published on Medium.