the future ain’t what it used to be…

03/28/2011

by carolyn mathews

Thanks to Yogi Berra for providing such wisdom in such a succinct manner! Only a few decades ago, people worked at the same company for many years, experienced mandatory retirement, received government benefits and a pension, planned a few trips or engaged in hobbies – and died! Fast forward to the new millennium and the experience is quite different. Often our work experience is a conglomeration of positions/titles/organizations;  most of us do not bump up against a mandatory retirement age; pensions are not as readily available/reliable; and we are living healthier, longer past retirement age than ever before.

The ideal time to start authoring your Signature Legacy is years prior to retirement. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the  3 Rs in creating your Signature Legacy: Raison D’être, Retirement Planning, and Reputation. First, I explained the concept of raison d’être, the idea of finding purpose in your life and how this can “foster the life and reputation for which you want to be known.” The next “R,” retirement planning, is equally important.

Many people consider the crux of retirement planning to center on their financial plan. True, this important aspect regulates how we live the rest of our lives. Without enough money and the correct insurance policies, that time after our primary career could be challenging, to say the least. Therefore, I urge all of my clients who are considering retirement to meet with a professional financial planner. A great planner will ask you what you plan to do with your post-career time so they can help you make the right financial choices to support that plan. But, you have to make the plans!

Trying to envision your future can be difficult. In part this occurs because we are wired to deal with the immediate needs in our life; that makes sense from a survival perspective. Eventually, however, the time arrives, and research shows that those who plan for their retirement enjoy greater overall well-being. Having all the security of “enough” money can feel like a hollow achievement if that is all you have planned. I suggest to my clients that they look to the five areas of wellbeing, as identified by Tom Rath and Jim Harter, authors of Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. These elements, Career Wellbeing (I substitute Retirement Wellbeing); Social Wellbeing; Financial Wellbeing; Physical Wellbeing; and Community Wellbeing, provide a great guide for those planning their Signature Legacy.

Beyond the financial aspect, which many of you have planned for, think about what you can do to make plans for the other areas. For example, what steps can you take to ensure your best physical wellbeing? Annual screenings, healthy eating, and exercise are all great starts. Additionally, ask your financial professional how you can best guard against major unanticipated health concerns. Community wellbeing takes into account whether you live in an area that is a good, safe fit for your personality, hobbies, and family members. This may be a different place than where you had your primary career. Social wellbeing entails your social connections. When you retire, how will these connections change? By looking at all of these areas, and weaving them into a retirement plan, you also contribute to your retirement wellbeing. Although the future ain’t what it used to be, you can plan for what lies ahead.

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