What do you want to be when you grow up?
You were probably asked that question many times when you were a kid. I always dreaded that question because I wasn’t one of those kids who had a special talent or somehow knew they wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, or whatever.
Sure, I dreamed about being a baseball player when I was little but, as I grew up, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
Later I dreamed about becoming a rock star (what teenage boy didn’t?) but it was obvious a musical career was never going to be in my future.
So, I was like many kids and went through school racking my brain to choose a career I would enjoy, be proud of, and most importantly, would enable me to support myself as an adult.
I ultimately chose business, economics, and finance, and here I am many years later working as a personal financial planner.
I am now in my 18th year in this career and I feel fortunate that I enjoy doing this.
You may wonder why I’m writing about this to an audience of adults, some of whom are Baby Boomers and late Gen Xers in their 50’s and 60’s who are at the later stages of their working lives.
For people in these age groups, that question is relevant again (just substitute “work ends” for “you grow up”).
People often seek out financial planners because they want to know when they can afford to retire.
Some say they hate their jobs and are just waiting to retire but, more often, people say they enjoy the work they do but are looking forward to being able to slow down and be free of the demands of their jobs.
This is where it can get complicated. The purpose of the financial plan is to enable people to live the best life possible and can afford.
Before we can do the math, we must know the answers to questions such as:
- How do you want to spend your time? (e.g., work
part-time, start a business, travel, pursue activities).
- Where do you want to live? (e.g., stay put, downsize, move
closer to children, relocate to a place with a better climate or lower cost of living)
- Do you and your spouse agree on your plans?
Too often, the answers I hear are “I don’t know” or “I haven’t thought about it”. Sure, the first year or two of retirement may be a “honeymoon” period during which you travel and play all the time, but that euphoria eventually wears off.
We could be talking about 30 years and that’s a lot of time to be filled.
The bottom line is that it’s important to have a purpose for waking up each morning at every stage of life.
In the later stages, it’s up to the individual to find their purpose. Some people want to work part-time or consult in their field after their career job ends.
Regardless, research shows that people who are the happiest in retirement are those who invest the time and energy in all aspects of their life: having fulfilling relationships, enjoying social connections, making a contribution in some way, maintaining your health, enjoying leisure activities, growing as a human being in some way, and incorporating spirituality – whatever
that means to you.