I can hardly believe it’s July already! And unfortunately, as we get older time seems to speed up. It feels like just the other day that I was in Mozambique for my December holiday, sitting on the beach re-evaluating my bucket list. It’s a ritual I do twice a year; in December I look back on the past year and plan for the year ahead. And in July I like to check myself to see what I still want to do. On both occasions I make a point of celebrating what I have enjoyed and what I have accomplished.
This time of introspection really helps me to pinpoint what I’m spending my time doing. In Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People I learnt about the importance of evaluating my time. He teaches us that most people spend all of their time doing those things that are urgent and important – those day-to-day activities you need to do, like paying your bills. We can get bogged down with these activities and they can become all-consuming. What we need to do is make time for things that are important but not necessarily urgent, like exercise, meditation and goal setting.
My clients are all very familiar with bucket lists and in our meetings we discuss the return on life that their money is affording them. I encourage you to think of your bucket list in the same way. Bucket list items are very personal and don’t always need to cost money. They could include books you want to read, places you would love to visit or people you want to meet.
Putting pen to paper offers you an effective way to figure things out. Being able to see your goals in front of you keeps you focused and inspired. Becoming a more effective thinker on paper is a proven way to becoming a more effective and balanced person in practice.
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” – Joel A. Barker
Many of us have lost track of the goals we set at the start of the year. Time flies, as they say, and some of us may have lost sight of our best made plans. For others, a loss of momentum is the culprit.
Whatever the reason, it’s now time to for a quick mid-year goal review that will get you back on track, and happily ticking items off your bucket list.
You may have fallen behind, or even temporarily stopped working towards achieving some of your goals, but procrastination isn’t going to achieve anything. So take a deep breath and simply recommit yourself to accomplishing your goals.
A lot can change in six months; you may not be interested now in pursuing some of the goals you previously set out to achieve. Nothing is set in stone, and if you feel you have outgrown some of your goals, cross them off your bucket list. Think of it as a bucket list clean-up exercise.
Just as you need to cut goals from your list, you may want to add new goals too. Take a moment and include the new dreams that you have for your life.
Make your goals actionable
With your revised and improved bucket list in hand, take the time to scrutinize it. The aim is to remove any ambiguous goals – goals that do not correlate to a specific action. Take each bucket list item and make sure that you have action points you can cross off.
Structure a time line for each of your goals and clearly record the deadlines for accomplishing them in your diary. It might even be a good idea to set aside time for yourself, perhaps on a weekly basis, so you can continually track your progress. By making the commitment now, you avoid losing the motivation later.
Now to really seal the deal, choose someone you trust and send your revised bucket list and plan of action to them. Often sharing it with someone can be a real motivator.
The theme for this month’s newsletter is Play! When we look at the wheel of balance, we say no one Life Area is more important than another. However, what I have learnt from our clients is that Play is the most popular Life Area.
I thought I would share this month where I have my most fun. My family and I have regular holidays at Rocktail Bay Camp which you will find in the lush tropical shade of the Maputaland Coastal Forrest in Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal.
On my visits to Rocktail, I have bumped into Chartered clients Roger and Cheryl Flowers who love to dive and shared with me that Rocktail boasts some of the best diving in the world. For those non-divers out there, the snorkelling is equally as incredible along unspoilt pristine reefs.
Another highlight for me when I visit Rocktail Bay is seeing the Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles. From late October to late March, they come onto the beaches to lay their eggs. Ronelle and Brian Baker, also clients at Chartered Wealth Solutions, shared how they watched the hatchlings heading back to sea in February this year. I had watched the female turtles lay those very same eggs last December – a humbling experience when you consider that this 900kg sea-based creature drags herself onto shore to find a secure spot to lay her 100 plus eggs.
At Rocktail, you have the opportunity to give back by adopting a turtle. Your contributions goes towards research and development and you receive email notifications when your turtle is seen in other parts of the world – sometimes as far afield as Australia!
There is something for everyone at Rocktail Bay – birding, swimming and walking on the long private beaches makes for the perfect family (or romantic) getaway. What’s more is that the local Gugelelesizwe community own a 17% share in the camp. Profits pay for children to go to university. Recently, one of these payments went towards building a community hall. You alsoGive Back to the local Gugulesizwe community, and Learn about the turtles and other marine life.
A trip like this one encapsulates fun for me – we spend many happy hours reading, eating, drinking and laughing with like-minded people. It creates time for Relationships with yourself, your spouse and your friends.
What’s more, is the long walks on the beach and the seafood will help you to maintain yourHealth while you enjoy yourself. The only snag is the cost, but for me, I have always found my visits there totally worthwhile!
Your path in retirement
“The greatest potential for growth and self realization exists in the second half of life.”
– Carl Jung
Jane Fonda, the renowned actress, political activist and fitness pioneer, has written a fantastic book sharing her vision for successful living and maturing. Its called Prime Time.
Fonda, who is now 74, has incredible, well-researched insights into living a fulfilling retirement, and her thinking echoes the philosophy that I preach to my clients. I highly recommend reading Prime Time to anyone already in, or nearing retirement.
A key message that I want to share with you from Prime Time can be explained with reference to the diagram you see above – the arch and the staircase.
The arch represents the old way of looking at our lives – growth, peak and decline. The decline represents the retirement stage of our lives – not a welcome sight for anyone nearing or at retirement. The arch also dictates that each phase of our lives has a set goal or activity; in the first stage we learn, in stage 2 we produce and in the last stage we enjoy a whole lot of leisure time – if of course we aren’t too sick and frail from the all that stressful production to enjoy it.
Fonda, like many other forward thinking boomers, believes that the arch is antiquated and that there is a different way of looking at things. Fortunately things have changed from the days when our parents were retiring. People on average only used to live into their early 60’s, but many are now living well into their 80’s. What this means is that your retirement represents almost a third of your life. Contrary to the arch philosophy, we aren’t declining in retirement, but rather starting a whole new phase of our lives. This requires a shift in thinking – we need to view our lives as a constant journey of growth and development – a staircase if you will– that we are always ascending and striving for more.
The staircase philosophy also means that we can no longer compartmentalise our lives into the learning, production, leisure model. If you had to spend an entire third of your life doing solely leisure activities I can almost guarantee you that you will be bored out of your mind. I frequently discuss balance with my clients because with 30 years ahead of you, you are going to need to include a variety of activities in your life to keep yourself occupied and fulfilled. What Fonda (and I) are suggesting is that you combine all three – why can’t you learn, produce and have fun at the same time? Do they have to be mutually exclusive? You should never stop learning in my opinion, and if you want to carry on working why shouldn’t you be able to? Of course leisure is important too, and so is time with your family and friends. Therefore if you continue to work you ideally need to structure it so that you can remain flexible.
People that are retiring now (in true boomer style) are revolutionising retirement. As with so many things they do the boomer generation is doing retirement in a whole new way.
By embracing the staircase approach to your life you will also be setting a positive example for future generations. I urge you all to look ahead at the next 30 years of your life, and to really plan and pursue a life in retirement that is both balanced and fulfilling.
When unexpected life events affect your retirement plan
A lot of the time we encounter clients that have a very straight forward retirement in the sense that they work hard, save well, and then retire with enough money (and a well structured retirement plan of course) that allows them to pursue their life goals and live comfortably. In these situations, when we talk bucket lists, we usually chat about exotic holiday destinations and adventures they want to pursue. However, often times, as you will see in the stories that I will share with you below, there are people that simply aren’t able to spend their retirement savings on those dreams because life has thrown them a few unexpected curve balls. Their bucket lists involve simpler, real-life desires that a few of you may be able to relate to.
Wally and Elaine were about to retire, but they had already drawn a substantial amount of money from their retirement savings. Their son started abusing heavy drugs at a young age which completely took over their lives. For years they tried everything but nothing seemed to work, until they found a rehabilitation facility called Tough Love which at long last managed to help him with is addiction. But the years of struggle came at a cost which ate into their savings. Their son John has now been sober for 9 years and is happily married. Wally and Elaine have had to make a few lifestyle adjustments in retirement, but they tell me that seeing their son happy cannot be quantified, and that the money was well spent.
There were other clients of mine that had to relook at their retirement plan when an unexpected life event meant that they had to dip into their retirement savings. Bill and Linda’s daughter was in her 30’s and happily married, but in an unfortunate turn of events her husband started losing his sight. She was a professional but hadn’t really been able to build a thriving business at that stage. When Bill and Linda came to see me we had to structure their retirement income so that they were able to support two households – their own, and their daughters. The long-term plan was to help her build a thriving practice so that they wouldn’t have to support her indefinitely. Much to my surprise they echoed the sentiments of Wally and Elaine, and told me that they too had no resentment or regrets when it came to supporting their daughter through this tough time.
The lessons that I took from these experiences are that family and relationships are more important to most people than money. I also learnt that everyone has very different priorities, and that a goal on a bucket list could be as real and emotional as saving a family, and doesn’t necessarily have to be frivolous. It also reemphasised the importance of planning. In the situations above, with the help of qualified retirement specialists, these people were able to make their lives work with the resources they had.
The greatest wealth is health
This is the second article in a series that appears in the monthly Inflight newsletter where I share lessons and insights gained from my clients on how to retire successfully.
One of the Life Areas on the Wheel of Balance is Health and whenever I get to this area I remind clients that without good health their money will likely be used to pay doctors bills.
I start by asking, “What kind of equipment is getting you around the road of life, a vintage performance bike or a dilapidated bike with bad breaks?” The car analogy is useful but the reality is a car can be replaced, whereas your body (bar a few aesthetic body parts) cannot. It is likely that you will probably require the use of your body for another 40 years, so if it is not in good nick now your only option is to restore it. Like a vintage car, character is not a bad thing but the goal is to clean it up and get it running as well as you can. Even if you have a disability or an ailment, you can still aim to make yourself as physically strong as possible.
Holistic health means having a healthy mind and body. If you are open to alternative healing methodologies and metaphysics you are open to the idea that emotional blockages manifest into physical ailments so emotional and mental health would be a good place to start. There is a huge amount of literature written about the mind-body connection and I encourage you to explore that.
If you are more interested in the purely scientific approach to health, there are mountains of research on the positive effects of a healthy diet and physical exercise. I am not going to bore you with food pyramids and I am also not suggesting becoming a marathon runner, but I am not going to let you get away with sighting “age” as a reason to neglect your health. If you listen closely your body will tell you exactly what it needs.
My only advice is that you find a form of physical activity that you enjoy. Consistency is important when it comes to being active, and if you enjoy it the chances that you will stick to it are greater. Gardening for example can improve your upper-body strength, walking is a good way to improve your cardio fitness and endurance, and core strength can be developed with Yoga or Pilates. Whether you are interested in dancing, hiking or playing golf, it is never too late to start!
Here are few suggestions from clients at Chartered Wealth Solutions…
Ray and Laura Wilson started playing Bowls which takes them all around South Africa. It not only keeps them active, but their social lives have improved too. “Ray has found Bowls to be the most sociable sports out of all the sports he has played.” – Laura Wilson
Cath Hebden joined Run Walk for Life when she was diagnosed with Osteoporosis. “One of the best decisions I have very made in my life was to join (Run Walk for Life) as the Osteoporosis is improving yearly and I feel so energetic and healthy today, mentally and physically.” – Cath Hebden
Reg Saunders at sixty nine realised he had never taken part in any form of exercise in his life and believed it was time to do something about it. “Since starting Gym and walking I have been introduced to many interesting people that are my age, and younger as well. I now enjoy a healthier and happier lifestyle in retirement.” – Reg Saunders
Passing the baton
This article is the first in a series that appears monthly in our Retire Successfully newsletter where I share lessons and insights gained from my clients on how to retire successfully.
A few weeks ago I was life planning a wonderful couple who have just retired. Peter was finding his retirement extremely difficult and felt that without his work something was missing. After further discussion his face lit up when he told me how he loved to teach and really wanted to be able to teach basic life skills to youths who hadn’t had the same opportunities in life he had had. But where and how would this happen? I encouraged him to actively participate in making his passion a reality and to start the journey, and I assured him that the opportunity would present itself.
The theme of passing on knowledge comes up in so many of the life planning meetings I have with retired people. What I have found is that at this stage in life, when people stop working, they are looking for something meaningful to do with their time. For some people hobbies, working and travel aren’t enough to give them a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment, mentoring can bring purpose into their lives and be a way of giving back.
Consider Winston Churchill’s words: “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give”.
The children and adolescents of South Africa are in desperate need of good role models. There is an entire generation of children who have grown up without an adult influence and need help in order to be effective and responsible adults themselves. There is no one more equipped to help them along their journey into adulthood than the retired people of South Africa – who have accumulated the most life experience and can instill in them the wisdom of age. It is also something that could expand their knowledge and experience, and perception of life. Because the younger generations are filled with energy and a desire to learn they can in turn invigorate and fulfill their ‘mentors’ who have so much knowledge and experience to impart to them.
I would like to tell you about a group of people who started an organization called Community Assisting Schools (CAS). They wanted to help schools in need with general maintenance of buildings, equipping libraries and computer rooms, providing catering, finding sponsorship for sports equipment, arranging motivational talks on life skills and career choices, and assisting with welfare and counseling. They are looking for, and would appreciate new volunteers and or sponsors.
Mentoring can mean different things to different people.
Here are different ways to mentor:
This could include mentoring a student who is studying your profession (engineer, doctor, advocate, and entrepreneur etc.) and guide them through the process of becoming an effective professional and helping them with their studies.
Working with disadvantaged children and teaching them the valuable life lessons and skills that they might never have been exposed to.
Working with children of any age and passing on a skill that such as sewing, dancing, wood working etc. that could add value and meaning to their lives.
This usually applies to young professional who are out of school and working in a professional environment. It could involve passing on skills and knowledge that will enhance the less-experienced person’s professional growth.
Before you start, ask yourself the following questions:
- What time commitment can I make?
- What kind of people do you want to work with? (Disadvantages children, young entrepreneurs, students who are studying your profession, new mothers etc.)
- Would I like to work with one-on-one or with a group?
- Would I like to team-up with other mentors or would you prefer to do it on your own?
- What knowledge do you want to impart? Do I want to help someone learn a specific skill, guide them through a process, or perhaps just be a supporting friend who they can turn to for advice?
- What mentoring location would I prefer?
Think of ways to share your talents, skills and experience so that as a retired community we can impart the tools needed to build a stronger society.
For interesting reading related to this topic, have a look at the following articles onRetireSuccesfully.co.za
Food garden Celebration at Khayelitsha Special School
– By Jeunesse Park
In Search of Meaning
– By Lynda Smith
If you have any ideas, or know of organisations where the Retire Successfully community could get involved, please forward them to email@example.com
When we do a retirement life planning meeting, we always encourage couples to come together. There are a couple of reasons for this: Firstly as much as we believe in maintaining a person’s individuality in retirement, it is equally important to create a shared vision. And secondly, communication between couples is sometimes lacking. I often find that the couples I see don’t like broaching the more difficult topics of conversation. And it’s my job to mediate, and get them to share. The sad fact is that many couples discover that they want completely different things.
I saw a couple who had this very problem – they couldn’t see how retirement was going to work for them because they had completely different dreams for their lives in retirement. Sue wanted to travel business class overseas and watch bands perform. Jack wanted to stay home and spend time woodworking. After sharing their visions it became clear to them that they needed two separate amounts of money so that they could enjoy their passions individually. Yes, this wasn’t the conventional retirement that most couples envision, but it worked for them. They both discovered that they loved the opportunity to be more independent, and felt a renewed connection when they got together – each invigorated by the new experiences they were having.
Spending time with you partner is obviously very important, but time apart affords you the opportunity to work on yourself and pursue your own interests. In fact, it’s really quite unrealistic to share in all of each other’s interests. Variety brings the spice – It’s healthy! The key here is to listen to your partner and understand what is really important to him or her, and then to be open to the idea of experiencing things apart, as individuals.
Mitch Anthony, the author of The New Retirementality, writes about achieving success in retirement by being fulfilled in 5 core areas of life – what he calls the 5 Vitamin C’s. I’d like to delve into one of them in this post – CONNECTIVITY.
If you’ve considered relocating for your retirement, have you thought about how that will affect how connected you will be to the people and places you enjoy? All too often when clients come to do their retirement plans the first thing they tell me is “We are moving away from the madness that is Joburg.” And often after our discussions the clients realise that if they were to leave Johannesburg they would feel too cut off from family, friends and their community. If the clients really want to move away it is important for them to have a plans to replace what they have in their present community with something similar where they are going.
A couple came to see me the other day and their plan was to move to Plettenberg Bay. I was immediately sceptical, but after listening to them I discovered that they had been preparing for this for years. They had spent many of their holidays in Plett, and had gone to the local church during each of their visits. When they made the move, they slotted into the church community with ease and were able to connect and establish friendships. Peter had a passion for flying, so they had also bought a hanger for their plane. They would not be leaving a void behind; they had managed to transfer all the things that had been important to them in Johannesburg to their new home at the coast. I knew I didn’t have to worry about them.
The message here is to carefully consider the proximity of friends and family when you retire. So much of our happiness is dependent on the state of our personal relationships. So it’s only natural that if you feel disconnected, it’s likely that you’ll feel unhappy.
By the way, The New Retirementality is a great read when you are planning your retirement, and I will be referring to it often in my blogs.