When we think about retirement, we generally jump to the issue of finances. How much money do you need? How much money do you want? How much money do you have? The topic of planning for, and spending in, retirement comes up almost all the time with my clients. And well it should. It takes planning to get where you want to be. With answers, we can come up with some good strategies to bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
But what about thinking of “retirement” in a slightly different light? Many of my clients are already retired, some are years away from retirement, some are eager to retire and move on to new adventures, some can’t imagine retiring, even if they are set financially. But, what is almost always true, is that most everyone has some aspect of their job, or certain personal responsibilities that they really don’t enjoy. That’s when I like to share a bit of advice I learned from Dan Sullivan, a business / life coach who I meet with in Toronto: “No matter what stage of life you are in, you should try to “retire” from the things you don’t enjoy when at all possible”.
Dan’s coaching is more about improving your quality of life as a business owner, rather than strategies to maximize profits. But, it struck me that much of what he recommends could be equally useful in one’s personal life as well as one’s work life, whether you are a business owner or not.
When Dan talks about “retiring” from what you don’t like to do, he isn’t advocating that you quit your job or abandon all your responsibilities. He means that you should try to extract yourself from obligations and tasks that sap your energy and take away from the things you enjoy. Sometimes that means finding someone to take your place and sometimes it just means saying “no.”
He divides activities into three categories. An A is something you really dislike doing. The B items are things you neither love nor hate, but you do them because you think you have to. The C activities are things that give you joy and great satisfaction. The task is to minimize the items in category A. Naturally, everyone will have their own rankings, but even the act of thinking about your priorities can be very helpful.
For instance, I love my work, but managing employees is something I find unpleasant and would rather not do. For over 30 years, I assumed I had to play a very active role in management because it was part of owning a company. Even with my exceptional crew, many of whom have been with me for more than twenty years, it was still the most unpleasant aspect of my job. What I’ve discovered is that by “retiring” from that aspect of my work and putting it in the hands of someone who does not find the task so onerous, everyone is happier. While I will always attend to some management issues, I delegated a significant amount of those responsibilities to our veteran estate planning attorney. Because he has more patience, he is more effective, and that is better for business and for me.
So, what onerous tasks in your life can you “retire” from, even if you still have years of work in front of you before you can officially retire? Perhaps a simple step forward would be to think about chores that you could outsource, freeing up time to do things that enrich your life. For example, we have a snow-removal service for the winter. I love getting up, and being able to ignore the snow on our sidewalk and driveway to go to work or to go cross country skiing. When I return, it is to a clean and shoveled sidewalk and driveway. This little stress reliever makes my life easier and happier. What would you like to give up, delegate , or outsource? I highly recommend giving it some thought.
By the way, if “retirement” gives you more time, and you enjoy travel, consider Toronto. Toronto is a very cosmopolitan city with fabulous food, theaters, concerts, museums, galleries, etc. And it is much easier to get to than you might think. If you fly Porter Air from Pittsburgh, you land on an island connected to the heart of downtown by a pedestrian tunnel. For my return flight, I walked from my hotel to the airport! What a time saver!
If you are interested in more financial information (we have written 5 best-selling financial books, many peer-reviewed articles, have 185 hours of our radio archives, etc.), we encourage you to visit our website, www.paytaxeslater.com. It has a wealth of valuable free material of special interest to IRA and retirement plan owners, or please call (412) 521-2732 for a free copy of The Ultimate Retirement and Estate Plan for Your Million-Dollar IRA or to see if you qualify for a free second opinion consultation.