From time to time the question of when are you going to retire is flipped onto me…
Generally, I’m not prepared for this question. For one, I’ve never really thought of retirement.
Maybe, just maybe a sliding doors moment could have changed all that.
You see, 7 years ago I was struggling big time. I loved the work I did. I loved working with my clients.
But the environment I faced on a daily basis nearly drove me to breaking point.
Back then, I was a partner in a large financial planning practice. We’d come out of one of the most challenging periods of my career. The Global Financial Crisis…it’s a distant memory now.
By this stage, the planners in the business including myself were looking to take the business to the next level. We had big plans…
However, the general manager and the licensee at the time (who owned part of the business) were not on board. The general manager became a muppet on a string for the licensee.
Not only that. The pressure was on to put the licensee interests and profit before clients interests. Yes, it was one of the big banks. Something I had to fight each and every day to remain focused on what was best for my clients.
This was so far off my moral compass.
I struggled to motivate myself in this toxic environment.
It took its toll, mentally and physically.
Until one day, I made a decision I’d had enough and decided to exit the business. That was messy and stressful in itself and a story for another day.
All with no job and no business to go to. You could say I took a leap of faith…lucky to have 3 months to sort it.
At the time I had a number of discussions going to partner with other people, however, for various reasons they all fell through.
I was faced with my biggest fear…starting my own financial planning business with no clients. A business solely focused on helping clients live their best lives. Free from conflicts.
Gotta say, it wasn’t easy…
It wasn’t until a frank and open discussion with one of my long term clients, I realised what a bad spot I had been. While I thought I’d put on a brace face. They noticed something was not quite right and noticed how stressed I was.
That was seven years ago…
While I’m still taking on new clients and have room for more. There will be a time where I stop taking on new clients. All of whom are either within seven years of retirement or retired.
While I may not enjoy every aspect of my job (i.e. the endless paperwork and legislation). I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now, I work around my life. Have no one telling me how to do things. Don’t wear a suit. Work with the clients I love. Attend nearly every sporting and school event my kids participate in.
Home in the mornings when they leave and sit down and have dinner with them every night.
Take time off when I need to…
All the while keeping my clients on the right path to live their best lives free from money worries.
Reflecting on that question of when I will retire…
I’m not sure I’ll retire.
Sure, life might look a little different. At this stage I love my work and my clients who to be honest are like my extended family who I love working with.
Maybe I’ll work with a lower number of clients when I hit my 60’s. Who knows…that still a while down the road.
However, if I had been stuck in the toxic environment of my previous practice. Maybe that answer would be much, much different.
I don’t write this to brag…that’s not my style. I want to show you that by making conscious decisions there’s no reason artificial finish lines should get in the way of you living your life your way.
The trap of the artificial finish line…
When I ask people when they want to retire. Age 65 and age 67 are commonplace. It’s a line in the sand for many.
It’s an artificial finish line.
No one is born with a stamp on their forehead with an expiry date on them. Nor do you get given an envelope with the date you’ll exit this world.
You and only you have the right to decide when you exit the rat race…
Sure, some are forced into retirement due to health. Others don’t like the circumstances they find themselves in. For them the only solution is to quit working.
However, if you enjoy the work you are doing and get satisfaction from it. You should do it for as long as you want.
We find speaking to many people on a daily basis, it’s not so much about quitting. But creating more time freedom for other enjoyable things in life.
Don’t let the artificial finish line get in the way of living your best life now…
Retire to something, not from something…
Work provides a sense of purpose, identity, meaning and self worth. It’s who you are.
Gone are the days where you retire, live out five to ten years and then die.
Retirements of today could last 20, 30 or even 40 years for some. That’s a lot of time to be sitting around twiddling your thumbs.
In some respects the idea of retirement is floored…for many they don’t enjoy the work.
The only reason they’re working is simple…they need the money.
Why do they need the money?
To someday retire at age 65 or 67 and do what they want…the retirement dream.
Sadly many are not on the track they want to run…
Marc Eisenson in his book “Invest in Yourself: six secrets to a Rich Life” said:
“Once we become adults, we often lose track of life’s simple pleasures and our own personal goals. We take a wrong turn or two, then spend a good part of our lives doing things we’d rather not – while not doing many things we’d enjoy. While many obsess about how unhappy we are, we don’t focus clearly on what we can do to change the situation: on how we can invest our time, energy and, yes, our money to consciously create the life we want.”
That leaves two cohorts of people who need to rethink their plans if they want to retire at age 65 or 67.
Ones who can’t afford to retire and those that can afford to retire.
We all have 168 hours in the week…how are you going to fill your days.
More and more we’re seeing the changing landscape of retirement or life after work. The pandemic was a BIG contributor to this.
In the last couple of years we’ve been having more and more discussions with people around their environment. Seeing people around them falling ill or suffering a major health shock.
The realisation that time is short…
In some cases, it’s a wakeup call…let’s do things now while we’re fit and able cohort.
It’s not defined by an artificial finish line…but a need to get on with living life before it’s too late.
YOU NEED A PLAN TO MAKE THIS A REALITY…
Life’s not a rehearsal…
I’m reminded of this through conversations on a daily basis.
A couple where the husband suffered a heart attack. Loves his work. Now wants time to pursue his personal interests in hiking, paddle boarding, mountain bike riding and travel around the country.
They want confidence that they can cut back on work without leaving them financially short.
We’re working with them to design a plan to make that happen.
Another couple we started working with a couple of years ago. Planned on working for a couple more years.
As we explored their financial options, they decided to bring their retirement forward. Realising they may not have forever and wanted to start their BIG lap adventure sooner rather than later.
I could go on and on…
Either way, for some this involves working for longer. Albeit in reduced capacity. For some, it’s a change of employment.
For others, it’s complete cold turkey…everyone’s unique in their views and reasons for working or not.
But in all cases, they are clear on what they want to achieve post work.
Slide into your grave with a BIG smile on your face…
That’s right…we’re not here forever…enjoy every precious moment you can.
Life’s meant to be an adventure…something to be enjoyed.
I was only having a discussion with a new client the other day. Mapping out what was important to them…
Being active and healthy…helping others…travel…spending more time with people close to them and nurturing relationships.
Note, there’s nothing about money in there…
Yes you need money to fund that, it’s what the money’s for.
As I said to them, we want you to slide into your grave with one massive SMILE on your face. Saying WOW, that was one hell of a ride.
Far too many people leave their planning for living life far too late. Don’t procrastinate any longer.
Book your Retirement Clarity Call here and start planning your best life before it’s too late.
Glenn Doherty – CFP – Financial Planner | Retirement Planning Made Simple for aspiring grey nomads and avid travellers within 7 years of retirement