It is interesting how the retirement industry is changing its marketing to clients from financial to lifestyle. When VLR was published there was very little talk in the financial services and retirement planning community about “lifestyle” in the purest sense. Today you are now seeing lifestyle in every form of retirement advertising. The concept of lifestyle has for a long time been involved in the financial planning process though questions and conversations with your financial advisor as part of the discovery or Know Your Client process. That usually meant these types of questions: how do you want to spent your money, are you prepared for higher medical or healthcare costs, where do you want to live, do you want to travel, etc.? All great questions and important considerations because if you don’t have a financial plan and ultimately financial independence or a plan to get there, it is going to be a pretty easy conversation around retirement lifestyle. You will be working! Our advice, get your financial house in order so you can truly design the lifestyle you want to have.
So many blogs have popped up over the last couple of years talking about some version of retirement lifestyle. Blogs on working part time, retiring by 30, 40, 18, pick an age, living retirement off your dividends, life is wonderful in retirement, etc. I have always believed that all these bloggers have something to share. An intelligent individual, and if you are reading our blog you must be intelligent, can get some kernel of advice even if you don’t completely agree with the blogger or the subject matter does not completely resonate with you. So keep educating yourself, find ways to live your life fully and challenge your financial planner to make sure your plan is meeting your needs and your changing priorities.
”Everyone has a plan until he gets punched in the mouth”- Mike Tyson.
Planning and preparedness are wonderful ways to give us comfort and get us excited about what is to come and what is possible with our new found freedom in retirement, but it is just that a plan. Remember execution is equally important, and the best laid plans don’t always go as expected. I am currently reading a book “How Bad Do You Want It?” by Matt Fitzgerald. The book looks at the mental toughness of endurance athletes and the psychobiological connection between mind body and muscle. How can some people prepare and train in the same manner, be of roughly the same physical capabilities but on race day one can push their physical limits and win while others are unable to reach their full potential? In the case of major races marathons, triathlons other participants are in the top .1% of “world class athletes” but they did not achieve their goal of being their best on race day. The books talks about mental toughness and the ability to push our body past what we thought was impossible, providing great examples of athletes accomplishing incredible feats. What I glean from this book in the context of retirement is – we are capable of so much. We don’t need to win every race but it is wonderful to know we prepared and did the best we can in what ever we try. All the preparation in the world will not mean success in retirement and everyone’s retirement will not look or feel the same. Unlike a race where all the competitors know the course, know how to prepare for the hills, the turns, where to pass, etc., in retirement we are all are on different paths, what works for someone else may not work for you. But knowing you prepared and executed to the best of your ability is a great feeling.
On your retirement journey know that you are capable of so much but also find “the race” that you want to run. It may not be the first one you choose and that is ok. Your preferences will most definitely change as you go along your retirement journey. You may decide when you leave your first career that you want to volunteer or help a friend with their business. You may learn that the organization or the company you are helping does wonderful work but it is not your passion and not feeding your soul. It’s ok to find another “race”. You may think you want to work everyday, after all you are healthy and you like the challenge of work but after a few months you may learn that three days of work is a better mix for you. Joining that golf course seemed like a good idea when you first retired after all you planned for it and you love golfing, but after a couple of years it is not really the joyful experience you had planned. It’s ok cut back on golf and try something else.
Plan, experiment, and execute in retirement. Learning what you like and don’t like and finding out that you are capable of something new can provide the greatest joy!