Imagine that you’re living in a tent on an open plain…
One day you plant a tree. For the next 40 years, you water it. You protect it from harsh weather and animals. You never pick its fruit. You don’t climb it for fun. You don’t take a break and rest in its shade. You don’t even cut down some branches to build a house. You never go anywhere or do anything else because you’re focused solely on growing that tree bigger and bigger.
Finally, just after your 65th birthday, the tree stops growing.
You look up at its enormous trunk and wide spread of branches and say to yourself…
“What was that for?”
Many of us treat our financial planning the same way. We become so caught up in the work that goes into “growing the tree” that we never stop to think about harvesting the apples or timber to make a better life for ourselves. As long as our tree keeps getting bigger, we keep putting in the work of growing it, even if that work doesn’t engage our interests or use our unique talents and skills to their highest purposes.
Then retirement rolls around.
Faced with the prospect of no longer working, some soon-to-be-retirees feel lost. Their sense of purpose was so connected to working hard to make more money that they never stopped to ask why or what that next dollar was for.
Some push off retirement as long as they physically can to keep chasing more money they don’t really need and will never actually spend. Others become so concerned about running out of money that they live too conservatively and never enjoy their retirement.
A Better Sense of Purpose
There is a purpose to having money and growing your wealth. What money can’t do is create purpose in and of itself.
Your tree is going to stop growing eventually. You’ll be able to live comfortably off the money you’ve saved and the income that your investments will continue to generate. After a lifetime of working hard and following your financial plan, your return on investment will be financial security in retirement.
- That’s when it’s time to stop worrying about the tree and start harvesting.
- That’s when it’s time to stop focusing on your return on investment and start enjoying them.
The earlier you’re able to make this shift in your mindset, the sooner you’ll be able to live the best life possible with the money you have.
Don’t wait until you’re 65 to start harvesting that tree and enjoying life. Enjoy life today while growing it for the future.
Enjoying life along the way will make your eventual transition to retirement even easier. Instead of struggling to replace work with leisure, you’ll be ready to pour even more of your time and energy into the activities that really matter to you.
Start by asking yourself, “What is my money really for?”
- Is it for going on dream vacations with your spouse?
- Taking classes that enrich your mind and body?
- A second house on the lake for weekend getaways?
- As much golf or tennis as you can squeeze into a day?
- The freedom to volunteer your time and professional expertise at an organization that’s making your community better?
- Finishing a major home renovation you’ve been putting off?
- Seed money to grow your own business?
Your life will take on a brilliant luster when you start to use your means and money in a meaningful way while planning for retirement.