There is a famous line that the actress Maggie Smith delivers on the show Downton Abbey when she asks, What is a weekend? Well, for most of us who have to work for a living the weekend is a time when we can rest, spend time with family and recharge. It is a time we look forward to. Playing a member of the British aristocracy, Maggie’s dowager character had this privilege every day. In many ways, that is what happens when we no longer have to go to the office, the store or the service route as we have for years. So what will you do when every day becomes a weekend? Will you sleep in for two years to reduce your perpetual exhaustion? Will you travel? Will you fish every day? Will you do church or charity work? Will you look after family members needing care?
You need to find that purpose. You need something that positively drives you as you age. Without a purpose I have seen many people just deteriorate, both mentally and physically, as they age. They pass on or become ill well before their time. Believe it or not defining your future purpose is also among the first steps in retirement planning. In this post, I will dive into this subject that is perplexing to many people, including myself when I first ended my business career.
Let me share my own situation. I completed my last major executive assignment over a decade ago and began my journey to retirement. I had accumulated sufficient assets and recurring income sources to stop work, but I was conflicted. For me, this was a very difficult time period. I took on a number of business assignments but found nothing that really satisfied me until I began my efforts to write and comment on personal finance matters. Here is what I discovered about myself.
Since I was age 12, I always worked, from cutting lawns, doing yardwork or having other part-time jobs to get money for my needs. Later in life, following career success, I always worked as hard as I could to do the best job possible. It was my psychological driver and the activity that gave me the most psychological benefits or what I call “psychic income.” Work has always been second nature to me.
Creating successful results at work was one of the major ways I defined my value as a person. Over the years, I worked to build in more time for family, self-care and relaxation but I did so with a profound sense of guilt. I felt I had to be working to prove my worth. Over the last ten years I have come to the realization that I was wrong. I needed to take a different approach to life, which after a decade I have.
As you plan for the time when full-time work ends, I have found you need a purpose to move yourself forward. I have found purpose in being an advocate and thought leader for personal finance. I hope this post helps you find what moves you so that you can get to a good place much sooner than I did.
Defining a Purpose
Depending on the purpose you select, there is a financial cost or implication. For example, if you decide to continue working part-time you can ease into the weekend world and possibly save less each year. On the other hand, if you want to pursue travel as soon as your employment status changes, you need to have the assets and income to fund your traveling. Have you saved enough to fund your pursuits? If you want to contribute to charity or church work, have you set aside the resources to do this? All in all, the key is deciding upon your path and financially planning to make it happen.
Preparing for retirement, or what I call the Fulfilling Stage of your financial life, is a multi-faceted process. It requires you to plan, make a number of key money decisions but also decide upon more than just financial matters. The cold bottom-line reality, however, is that you must have the after-tax cash flow in retirement to pay for your passion. Planning for when you stop working full-time is essential for everyone. Planning is the key to lifetime financial security.
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