Retirement planning historically has been viewed as an economic event. A point in time when earning income from work ends and drawing income from pensions and investments begin. The focus on retirement planning has therefore always been on having enough money to retire comfortably.
In the book “The Late Start Investor” author John Wasik recommends discarding this out of date view for a “flexible life plan that provides for financial, vocational, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.” He suggests, “Unless you look at your future holistically, merely saving up a pile of money will be a meaningless act.”
Financial security is and will always be important, but having all the money you need to retire comfortably will not guarantee a rich and rewarding life in retirement. The author Thomas Stanley in his book, “The Millionaire Mind” points out that the most satisfied wealthy people don’t just have financial goals, they also have life goals. These people are clear about what they want in life and use their wealth as a tool to support those values and priorities.
So, here’s the key point, “It takes more than money” to have a great retirement. No surprises here because we’ve heard this before. Working and earning a living provides most of us with a reasonable degree of satisfaction – even if we enjoy the actual work less than we once did. During retirement we lose even that opportunity to be satisfied we did something of value that day – and we need to consciously plan to replace that feeling with other activities.
Money plays a significant role in helping us achieve our life goals. The greater our financial assets, the more open we may be in considering life goals and diverse those life goals could be.
Retirement planning needs to include the following kinds of discussions:
- What will having sufficient financial resources do for the options available for realizing life goals?
- How will economic security affect the freedom to focus time and attention on what is most important?
- Will financial independence allow pursuit of activities that give life a sense of meaning and purpose?
There is a lot of truth to the old saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.” However, wealth undoubtedly gives us more opportunities to invest time and energy in ways that personally matter most.