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How Wise People Will Stop Planning For Retirement. And Instead DO THIS

I’ll confess, for more than a decade, I’ve been working with clients to help them “retire.” I worked for many months to gain a license through Smith Barney as a “Retirement Planning Specialist.” (RPS). For years, the designation was framed on my wall. I’ve helped incredibly wealthy people "retire"… and those who wanted to understand what they could afford on social security benefits. I’ve helped people “do it” early, and even one client do it “by Friday!” All to say, I bought into the idea that “retirement” was some kind of divinely ordained phase of life. Kind of like puberty, middle age and when you start appreciating kale. And being connected to the financial industry, I’ve attended countless seminars and gone to conferences on how to help people retire better, richer or just plan for it more intentionally. And especially NOT run out of money before dying! Google retirement and more than 85% of results will be investment sites along with the bad news that adding longevity to retirement has many in danger these days…. to where living too long ranks with fear of death! Having witnessed many clients, friends and family “retire”, and even asked many of them, “What would you do differently?” Many would have planned much differently. I’m now convinced that just doing what we’re doing and expecting different results is a lousy formula and terrible way to help people flourish. And with all this planning and even goal setting to retire “early,” might it be time for us to say, ”Hold on. Is it time to reevaluate retirement? Rethink it? Even better, reimagine something different to make the golden years golden! Have we just assumed that this way is the best we have to offer to bring about human thriving? Human peace? Human prosperity? Human flourishing?

Five things that makes reevaluating retirement wise:


1. The concept of “retirement” is not part of most human history.

It hardly existed in any society until industrial revolution factory owners sought a way to replace aging (and slowing) workers with young ones…. and the government helped them do it with a thing called “social security.”


Study the history of retirement and note how the powerful were able to utilize the concept for their advantage.


2. The very word “retire” is a completely negative concept and based on “withdrawal.”

Webster’s defines is as “to withdraw from action or danger, retreat, to move back , recede, or to withdraw from one's position or occupation?”


Motivating, huh? The true meaning of life? Work hard to be able to withdraw!


Why do we focus so much and set a goal to “withdraw” and invest so little in seeing later years as a time to better engage? Bring our best? Thrive?


3. The concept of “retirement” as life goal isn’t a big motivation for saving money.

Today. 45% of Americans have saved nothing for retirement, including 40% of Baby Boomers. Might there be a connection to the lack of motivation by a negative vision? 38% don't actively save for retirement at all. (The Motley Fool, January 26, 2016)



4. Many people actually make their best and most fulfilling contributions AFTER "retirement age."

Did anyone note that Donald Trump will be 70 when inaugurated…and hopes to serve two four year terms!? Hillary Clinton is 69! No one seemed to be asking them why they hadn’t “retired?”


Not to mention scores of people who make their most significant contributions well after “retirement age.”


  • At 70, Cornelius Vanderbilt began buying railroads.

  • At 75, cancer survivor Barbara Hillary became one of the oldest people, and the first black woman, to reach the North Pole

  • At 85, Theodor Mommsen became the oldest person to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature.

  • At 89, Arthur Rubinstein performed one of his greatest recitals in Carnegie Hall.

  • At 90, Marc Chagall became the first living artist to be exhibited at the Louvre museum.

  • At 95, Nola Ochs became the oldest person to receive a college diploma.

  • At 98, Beatrice Wood, a ceramist, exhibited her latest work.


And… The average American retires at age 63. What??


5. Studies are showing that modern “retirement” isn’t making people happier or healthier.

“Fewer and fewer American retirees say they are “very satisfied” with their retirements, and a growing number report that they are “not at all satisfied” with their retirements.” (The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).”


“Retirement is making people more miserable than ever before” (Marketwatch)


“People who retire at 55 are 89% more likely to die in the 10 years after retirement than those who retire at 65.” (WebMD)


OK, so Houston, we have a problem. Is there a solution? A positive one?

YES! I’d propose we start with getting rid of the word and concept of “retirement” all together. AND we replace “retirement” with a completely life-giving and positive concept.


What if…. we were to help people and use another, positive and snagging word.


How about “Convergence?


In “convergence” things come together. They unite. They finally connect.


Lets define this as that as the season in life where we attain clarity of purpose, competence to offer our best gifts and cash flow to have security, flexibility and even generosity in our lifestyle.


Instead of “retirement planning,” what if we instead offered ‘convergence planning?” What if the same industry that’s been helping people “retire” was to instead help people attain to a time of life where things came together instead of withdrawal?


What might that look like? Here are three positive ways seek as benefits of convergence planning.


1. Clarity of Direction

In convergence, we attain clear vision and meaningful direction in life where we adventure to focus on what matters most to us. We clarify our deepest values, our understanding of our callings, or the good life.


We know:

  • Who we really are. (identity)

  • Who we care to invest in (relationships)

  • Where we want to spend out time (location)

  • What we care most deeply about (values)

  • How we can maintain and grow well-being (health)

  • What can we do that’s meaningful, fun and satisfying (mission)

  • What we want to invest in to serve others (legacy)


And we write these things down. A real life plan.


The outcomes would include a focused investment of time, resources and energy. Decisions would be easier since they were planned with forethought and emotional intelligence.



2. Competence

How might planning include ways to empower people utilize their best gifts to serve others and to feel excited about what they “do” day to day? Yes, it’s true that MOST people are currently disengaged, debilitated or under-employed in current careers. Why not help them change that as soon as possible? Help people stop focusing on doing things that drain them or aren’t their best gifts and instead do things that bring life to them and value to others?


Competence results in greater confidence. And it can provide a paycheck (most will need and want that) or a “playcheck.” (possibly serving non-profits, education, mentoring or business that meets needs as a primary mission.)



3. Cash Flow

Of course, planning to have adequate, consistent and secure cash flow is part of convergence and human flourishing. Money connected to purpose is a great thing!


Planning for this will include ways to attain income through wise investing, especially those that create peace of mind, even when economies will continue to go up and down. Insurance also becomes a wise way to maintain values and visions for now and later.


The difference: Cash serves the bigger vision. It’s not a silo or end in itself. Money helps dreams and visions come true.


Planning cash flow can include wise planning to for purchases connected to your values as well as ways to give back and be generous to family or charities. We get to “forward fund” dreams, visions and ways to help others we care about.


Conclusion

And the ultimate results of such “Convergence Planning” would go way beyond “ “I have enough money” to long term happiness, health, meaning and even peace of mind. It would intentionally integrate life planning and coaching with financial planning and investment management with the goal of creating integrated lives with purpose, peace and prosperity.



So, is this a pipe dream or something that can become reality?


What do you think? What’s to lose by moving in this direction?


All the Best!


Jeff



For practical next steps, check out my video on 5 LIFE CHANGING FINANCIAL LIFE PLANNING QUESTIONS from a recent interview with a financial firm.

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