Your Next Life Phase: Avoiding A Greek Tragedy

If you are looking for a sad story, you don’t have to look far.

There are enough economic disruptions going on in the world right now to deflate the most optimistic of personalities.

But that doesn’t have to be you.  Whether you believe it or not, you do have choices and you do have a future that can still be what you want it to be.

But it does start with you.

So, how to regain optimism? How to regain enthusiasm for the future?

I think it starts with a conversation about how we envision our future.

You don’t have to be concrete about it, but start visualizing what you would like.  It likely involves some degree of financial security, doesn’t it?

OK, so how do we get that financial security?

When I graduated from college, I had 2 books that helped me figure out what to do and where to go from graduation.  My whole future had changed in the last few months of school, and I desperately needed a way to refocus on a different future.

Those 2 books?  1) What Color Is Your Parachute? and 2) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

They gave me hope and actionable steps on what to do after graduation.  Where to go after having everything change on me and not knowing, all of a sudden, what direction to go in.

Most of my clients are in the accumulation stage of their life.  They are working hard and can find it hard to visualize what it’s for beyond the immediacy of today’s needs.

So here are some things to keep in mind on how to get some of that optimism and enthusiasm back:

1) Talk about what kind of life phase you want next.  It could be retirement or it could be starting your own business.  Discuss it, alot.  The more you talk about it the more you will figure out a plan to get there and the more excited you will be for the work you are currently doing.

2) Unless you work for yourself, it’s highly unlikely you will be able to work into your 70s.  This is unfortunate but it’s reality.  So plan on saving more now and spending less now.  Every single dollar you save now will propel you to the future you envision for yourself.  Transversely, every single dollar you don’t spend now will propel you to the future you envision for yourself.

3) Costs will go up so keep that in mind for your future.  You might think you can get by on only 70% of your current income, but likely you will have higher costs in the form of energy costs and health care.  Plan now by just starting small and taking it from there.  Just start putting aside a little bit more than you already are and paring back on just one or two expenses as an offset.

You will get there, especially once you start to feel how empowering it is to have this as a habit.

You can do this, it’s not hopeless.  But start today.  And look into those 2 books if you haven’t already.

I read them right at graduation time, but they are timeless and apply to any point in our lives.

(Full Disclosure: I am a Fee-Only Financial Planner. My website is here.)