There’s more to Retirement than Financial Planning

The retirement industry is starting to wake up to the fact that just because a client has achieved a certain level of retirement savings doesn’t mean that they will automatically enjoy a happy retirement.

Life just doesn’t work that way and the truth is that financial planning fails without lifestyle planning: you need to have a good handle on what you are actually saving for and why.

Our level of happiness is not determined by how much money we have; rather, it is how we choose to live our lives. In our new transition guide we have compiled a list of key attributes that if focused on will help you live longer, healthier and happier lives. By focusing on these attributes you will be well on your way to a happy and fulfilling life.

Today I would like to share some thoughts I have on one of these attributes, which is our relationship with time.

Time: Your most precious resource

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo de Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – H. Jackson Brown

Visiting my mother at the nursing home always reminds me that I’m getting old and every day is bringing me closer to the end. It is not a negative thought; rather, it’s an important reminder to focus and use my remaining time on this planet wisely on the things that really matter. Rushing around stressed out because I’m wasting my time is a major happiness killer for me. Watching my mother I often wonder if I am living my “why,” the best I can? Can I do better? Am I doing the best for my family?  For my friends? Am I making the world a little better?

Best Before Date

Today I’m working hard at getting into shape. My time investment is a priority of mine as it will increase the odds of me living longer, and also help push back my “best before date” increasing the amount of quality time I have at my disposal.

I view “quality time” as the period of my life when I am healthy enough to do the things I love:  golfing, fishing, traveling etc. Once you pass the “best before date” and have lost your health it really doesn’t matter how much money or time you have left because you will not be healthy enough to spend it. That’s just the way it is.

Black Swan Events

My father passed away before his time from pancreatic cancer at age seventy-two. He had a healthy lifestyle and enjoyed twelve years of retirement so deciding to retire from corporate life at age sixty was a smart move. His early passing reminds me that even though we may watch our health and do the right things “black swan” events do occur and we can be dead a lot sooner than the averages say. That is why every day that we have matters and we need to never lose sight of that.

A new perspective

Knowing what my father went through has had a big impact on how I see and do things. Accepting that I could die tomorrow freed me from many of my past fears: the ones that had been holding me back for so many years. I don’t need to find ways to cope anymore because the truth is that I have nothing to lose. Thinking like that is liberating as I no longer feel the need to stay in my comfort zone. It creates a sense of urgency that cannot be satisfied by wasting time sitting on the couch watching television. You feel the need to spend everyday engaged in something meaningful and significant, something that is important to you. I now look at every sunrise, sunset and everything in between as a gift, a gift I’m not willing to waste.

Return on Time Invested (ROTI)

Each week we all have 168 hours at our disposal and If you want more time to do things that are important to you, don’t waste time on stuff that’s not. Watching TV shows, chatting on social networks, or drinking yourself into oblivion, all of it takes an impressive amount of time. In the United States, people spend an average of 444 minutes every day looking at screens, or 7.4 hours. That breaks down to 147 minutes spent watching TV, 103 minutes in front of a computer, 151 minutes on a smartphone and 43 minutes with a tablet, which is kind of scary when you think about it.

I intentionally invest my time in high-return activities like improving my health and don’t waste my 168 hours doing things I don’t enjoy, wasting time worrying about things beyond my control, or being mad about something. I’m very careful about the time I spend on social media, time spent watching the stock market, checking stock prices and checking out the latest scandal involving Trump on TV. It all about getting a good return on my time investment.

Questions to Ponder: 

• Why waste time doing a job that you hate?
• What do you wish you had the time to do? (Hint: you should start doing more of that now.)
• Would you rather spend more time at work or more time doing things with people you love, the ones you care the most about?
• What do you waste your time doing?
• Where would you like to invest your time?
• What is most important to you? What makes you happy? (Make sure you invest most of your time on that.)
• Do you have the will power to turn off your electronics?
• Are you addicted to social media?
• What is your most destructive time sucking habit?
• How do you spend your time ? (This might really surprise you)

 Mike Drak is an author, blogger and speaker based in Toronto. He can be reached at Victory Lap Retirement, co-authored with Hub CFO Jonathan Chevreau, is available online and on Kindle and Koboebooks, where it is a bestseller. The paperback edition is available in Chapters Indigo and many independent bookstores, as well as Costco, and the book has been on the Globe & Mail bestseller list. This blog originally ran on Mike’s site on April 19, 2018 and, with slight edits, is reprinted here with permission.

3 thoughts on “There’s more to Retirement than Financial Planning

  1. I totally get what you are saying! I watched my husband of 36 years live and then pass away from a brain tumour at 57 yrs old just 18 months ago. He never got to retire. I am now 57 and I am choosing to live abundantly!

    1. Hi Susan! Sorry to here about your loss. I lost a brother at 59 years old. For guys the age range 57-60 I call death valley. Boomers need to think more on a short term basis since a long abundant life is not guaranteed for everyone. In Canada we still have ageism and age discrimination. I think that it’s time for older Canadians to demand a paradigm shift and more respect for retirees at any age through lifelong learning, financial literacy, digital literacy, computer literacy, health literacy and my favorite areas senior entrepreneurship and micro-business training. Financial Advisors are only a starting point that builds a foundation to a higher purpose and a more meaningful retirement lifestyle.

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