by Mitch Anthony
Independence has as many meanings as you have clients, but my guess is that for most of them it means being able to live life on their own terms. As a financial life planner, your goal is to help those clients achieve independence, however they define it. The old, outdated paradigm—the one that separates curiosity, work, and leisure into separate and distinct boxes—no longer applies.
The new paradigm is the new retirementality™: curiosity, work, and leisure integrated into a balanced approach to everyday living. There is no longer a beginning, middle, and end. A truly independent life is one in which we are constantly learning something new, engaging in work that challenges and fulfills us, and reserving time for rest and relaxation. Trying to keep each of these activities in separate boxes will only make us prisoners. Liberation comes when we learn to fluidly integrate all three.
The only way to keep pace and flourish in this fast-paced world is to be a lifelong learner who continues to grow and experience all that life has to offer. One's degree should never define who a person is. Being curious is the doorway to independence. Personally, I have found the greatest rewards by tracking my heart instead of grinding it out in a career track that would have paid well but would have taken too much from me. This is not to say that I haven't taken a detour or two and learned some hard lessons. But the fact of the matter is that my constant curiosity has helped me maintain my independence. Not only is it okay to be curious—it's an essential component of independence.
It's a fact: working for the same company for life is a thing of the past. Statistically, your clients will change jobs and/or careers many times before they turn 50. More will face the hard truth that their companies no longer want them after they turn 50, if not sooner. It is ridiculous to expect young people who aren't even old enough to purchase a beer decide on a course of study for employment that will engage them for the rest of their lives, given the realities of the workplace. Let's face it—most people don't have a clue about how their life will evolve, especially when they are just graduating from high school.
Toiling away at something they really don't enjoy for decades keeps them in prison, and makes life miserable. Encourage your clients to understand that they have options––options that may require some planning, but that's where you can help. Clients understand that they shouldn't go through life focused on life after Social Security. Work is an essential component of who they are—it shouldn't end when they turn 50, 60, 70, or even 80, and it shouldn't be a miserable experience. Clients need to understand and plan for this reality—you can help.
What's the point of independence if someone can't enjoy it? People work for years with little or no vacation—some people even brag about it! In their minds, they're "too busy" or "too integral" to their organizations, and instead relegate leisure and relaxation to retirement years. When they finally get there, they're miserable because they have no idea how to relax. Leisure and relaxation need to be integrated on a regular basis. It makes them more curious and work more fulfilling.
Encourage your clients to break out of the "boxes of life" and integrate curiosity, work, and leisure into one fluid lifeline. You need to demonstrate to your clients a life course that needs no finish line and no retirement date. Only then will they discover true independence.
What's Stopping Them?
The question to ask your clients after they've shared what they would rather be doing is, "What's stopping you from doing it?" Try getting them to articulate what obstacles they need to overcome to get from here to there. Are they willing to take such risks? If they aren't, they will never truly be independent, no matter how much money they have.
Your clients can do what they really want to do if they are serious about making it happen. For some, the motivation comes from facing the inward loathing they carry toward their work and themselves for not doing something about it. They are tired of lukewarm waters. For others, the motivation comes from facing the dreams, passions, and energies they have stored up within themselves that are not being expressed through their current work. Regardless, the conclusion should be the same: life is not meant to be a lukewarm experience. Once your clients decide to do what they've always wanted to do, they erase the need to ever fully retire. When retirement becomes a non-event, they are truly free.
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Adapted from The New Retirementality: Planning Your Life and Living Your Dreams...At Any Age You Want, Fourth Edition by Mitch Anthony. (©2014 by Mitch Anthony. Published by John Willey & Sons, Inc.)
© 2015 Mitch Anthony
Mitch Anthony is the founder and president of Advisor Insights Inc. and the Financial Life Planning Institute, the leading provider of financial life planning tools and programs.
For almost two decades, Mitch and his team have provided training and development for both individual advisors and major organizations throughout the world. Mitch personally consults with many of the largest and most-recognizable names in the financial services industry on both financial life planning and relationship development.
Mitch has been named one of the financial services industry's top "Movers & Shakers" for his pioneering work, and is interviewed by the media on a regular basis. The Institute is partnering with both Texas Tech University and the University of Georgia to develop financial life planning programs for their undergraduate programs. Mitch is a popular keynote speaker, columnist for Financial Advisor magazine and Journal of Financial Planning, and host of the daily radio feature, The Daily Dose, heard on over 100 radio stations nationwide.
Mitch is also the author of many groundbreaking books for advisors and consumers, including perennial bestseller StorySelling for Financial Advisors, cited by "Financial Advisor" magazine as the number one "must-read" book for financial professionals. Mitch's other books include The New Retirementality (now in its 4th edition), From the Boiler Room to the Living Room, Your Clients for Life, Your Client's Story, The Financial Lit-Kit: The Cash in the Hat, The Bean is Not Green, and Where Did the Money Go?. For information on these books and more resources, click here. Contact Mitch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Retirementors Needed for Mitch's New Retirementality Television Program
Mitch is developing a program for public television based on The New Retirementality.
If you know someone who is meaningfully engaged in their encore years, email us—they could end up being featured in the program!