By Jim Shellenberger, CFA, CFP®
Working decades of your life to one day reach retirement is a goal most of us share. But we all know someone who seems to be doing more, traveling more, and just enjoying everyday life more than most. You may find yourself asking, “How can I live in the now and not wait for retirement to start enjoying life?”
At Elevate Wealth Management, we want to help you create a balance between working toward the retirement of your dreams and living your retirement dreams now. Here are four ways you can get started doing just that.
What Do You Want Your Life to Look Like?
Financial conversations can often be left-brain dominant. But since money impacts every area of your life, it’s critical that financial discussions also include your hopes and dreams for life. That means we need to dig into the emotional side of our thinking.
One simple way we can do this is by asking our clients specific questions about what their retirement goals look like:
- Tangible goals: What would you like to have?
- Conceptual goals: What would you like your life to be like?
- Freedom goals: What would you like to be able to do?
Principle in Action
Many people don’t even know where to begin when faced with the above questions and will sometimes provide a surface-level answer, such as “I’d like to travel” or “I’d like to spend more time with my family.” These are great starts, but it may take some time to truly uncover what’s most important to you. That’s okay; even if you don’t know exactly what you want, there are ways to take practical steps toward leading a happier, more fulfilled life now.
1. Expect Less
It’s no secret that money can buy peace of mind and less stress. But can money buy you happiness? The answer is: to an extent. Researchers have found that increased income is associated with increased levels of happiness and life satisfaction up to a point—$105,000 (1) to be exact. Beyond that threshold, happiness levels plateau and additional increases in income result in negligible changes in happiness.
Instead of focusing on the ultimate retirement dream (e.g., a certain amount of money in the bank, or a specific car or household item), try focusing on what you do have and live in the moment as much as possible. Practicing meditation or mindfulness can have significant impacts on your overall sense of happiness and well-being, and letting go of expectations of what your life should look like can be a great first step in living your retirement dream now.
2. Set Sub-Goals
If your dreams are more on the tangible side, that’s great too. To help with these goals, try setting smaller sub-goals that can be achieved more quickly than the ultimate retirement dream. For instance, if your retirement dream consists of retiring to a condo on a beach in South Florida, maybe set a sub-goal of vacationing in South Florida first. Taking that trip could inspire you even more to make your ultimate dream a reality, while also allowing you to live your dream in the moment.
3. Find Purpose
Studies show that individuals who live a purpose-driven life (2) are happier and healthier on average than those who don’t. Not only that, they also live longer! (3) A purposeful life is commonly associated with fulfillment and motivation, and can be found in many ways. Volunteering for a local nonprofit or church, spending time with your children, or pursuing a newfound hobby are great ways to find purpose in your day-to-day life.
4. Prioritize Family & Friends
This one sounds obvious, but it’s often one of the hardest things to do. Life gets in the way, and before you know it, you’ve spent a whole month getting stuff done but not really spending any true quality time with the people who matter most. Living your retirement dream now often comes in the form of just slowing down for a moment—realizing that the laundry list of stuff to buy, deadlines to meet, and things to do is important, but so is connecting with and learning from those around you.
The great news is, you don’t have to wait until retirement to do that. You can start setting aside time every week to check in with your loved ones and find meaningful ways to connect. You might just find that in doing so, your to-do list becomes a little lighter and maybe even easier to accomplish.
Get Started Today
There are many ways you can find your own balance in order to live your best life leading up to retirement, instead of waiting to retire to start doing what you want.
At Elevate Wealth Management, we approach your financial goals as a team to provide a holistic view of your life and finances so we can provide comprehensive wealth management. Our goal is to help you find that balance so you can enjoy your life leading up to and during retirement. To learn more, schedule an introductory meeting by reaching out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307.673.5675.
Jim Shellenberger, CFA, CFP® is a financial advisor at Elevate Wealth Management, an independent, fee-only wealth management firm serving young professionals, pre-retirees, and retirees in Sheridan, Wyoming, and surrounding areas. With the mission of serving and educating, Jim is dedicated to providing comprehensive, top-notch services that not only help his clients reach their goals, but also empower them to make the best financial decisions for their lives and walk toward their future with confidence. Jim is known for going the extra mile, not only offering valuable knowledge in investment management as a former investment analyst, but building long-lasting relationships so he can give honest, customized advice and strategies that make an impact on their lives.
Jim has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in finance from the University of Wyoming. He is proud to be a Wyoming native and loves exploring the outdoors with his family—hiking, fishing, hunting, and backpacking. Faith is an integral part of Jim’s life, and he always looks forward to attending church on Sundays, Bible study on Fridays, and being part of his church community. He’s also an avid sports fan! Fun fact: Jim owns shares in the Green Bay Packers. To learn more about Jim, connect with him on LinkedIn.
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