The truth of financial planning is that it works if someone actually knows what they want to do with their life.
This probably seems contrary to popular wisdom. You put your money with a reputable financial planner, you run a 70 page report that you might look at one day a year, you accumulate a seven figure sum of money, decide the government isn’t going to hose you out of social security for the rest of your life and you’re financially set. You’ve arrived. Congrats.
However, I’ve had a front row seat into my clients lives for nearly 20 years. I’ve been the person they cry at the kitchen table with, I’ve sat shiva with the family the week after, I’ve been confided in when they’ve been sued by the person who bought their life’s work, and Ive been there when they got sued by their step-children a month after they lost a loved one.
Those are the dramatic instances that will always pull at my heartstrings. What’s more important – and all the much more common – are the clients who woke up at 60, 62, 65, – and are bored. Money isn’t an issue. They watch the grandchildren. They read every page of their brokerage statement. They now find the $3.87 cash sweep option on page 13 that was always there. They get depressed. They get sick. They’re unfulfilled.
Wow, this got dark fast. Sorry. Whew. The reality is we (I fall in this camp) focus on our jobs, on being a good person (most of the time), on socializing with friends/family on weekends, occasionally giving back to a charity we love. And then we wake up, have enough money in the bank, and are now in a race to figure out what our hobbies are while our spouse or friends from work are busy playing tennis or still working.
Congratulations! You’re financially independent!
A lot of people go back to work. There is nothing wrong with that assuming you’re ok dying at a different desk than the one you sat at for 30 years. The point I try to make with clients is that lifestyle planning is just as important as the financial aspect of retirement planning. Meaning, it needs to be done before you send your boss an email and have an awkward conversation at a happy hour in your honor with the guy who just got hired 2 months ago to be your replacement.
Here are some steps toward success:
Make a list. Think of all the big and little things you want to do in retirement.
Now think beyond the first six months. The garage will be clean, you’ll have donated all your clothes, you’ll discover that you need to pace yourself on travel. What’s a Wednesday afternoon look like?
How can you give back? Forget about what’s readily available. Think through what inspires you to give back and make a difference.
Who do you want to be a part of your life for the last quarter of your life? Maybe there are new people you should meet, or maybe there are people who you see once a year and you want to get to know them better.
Who can you help mentor?
Journal 3 legal sheets once a day. Don’t filter. Don’t edit. Just hand write the pages out. Do this prior to retiring and in retirement. Read the artist’s way by Julia Cameron if this doesn’t make any sense (and no, it doesn’t matter if you’re not an artist or creative).
What is the thing you always wanted to try?
These are just some ideas…. what do you think? What worked for you? Write your thoughts in the comments!
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