Life Planning vs. Retirement Planning

In the past, the transition to retirement has been viewed solely as an economic event. As a result, the focus of retirement planning has always been on building a nest egg.

In The Late-Start Investor, author John Wasik recommends discarding this obsolete view in favor of a “flexible life plan that provides for financial, vocational, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.”  He explains, “Unless you look at your future holistically, merely saving up a pile of money will be a meaningless act.”

Of course, financial security is extremely important, but financial resources alone will not guarantee a rich and rewarding life in retirement.  Thomas J. Stanley, author of The Millionaire Mind, points out that the most satisfied wealthy people don’t just have financial goals, they also have life goals.

In other words, they have clarity around what they want in life and use their wealth as a tool to support those values and priorities.

Therefore, the most important retirement planning message for your clients of all ages is that “it takes more than money.”  With this in mind, make sure your clients not only consider how the transition to retirement will affect their  financial lives, but how it will influence all other areas of their  lives as well.

The first step to helping your clients prepare for their retirement years is to guide them in thinking about and clarifying what is most important to them.  This is a time for your clients to listen to their hearts and to focus on what they value most in life.  Whatever your clients identify will become the foundation for their life goals.

The next step is to help clients think about the role that money can play in helping them to achieve each life goal.  Ask clients the following questions:

  • Will having sufficient financial resources give you more options for realizing your life goals?
  • Will economic security give you more freedom to focus your time and attention on what is most important to you?
  • Will financial independence allow you to pursue those activities that will give your life a sense of meaning and purpose?

Answering these questions will help your clients  to understand how their money is integrated into all areas of their lives, not as an end in itself, but as an instrument for creating the life they want—now and in retirement.

There is a lot of truth to the old saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.”  However, your client’s wealth will give them more opportunities to invest their time and energy in ways that personally matter most.

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