A non-financial plan can be an asset in building a mindful future.
A mindful future can benefit from a non-financial plan
Thinking about the future is a tricky thing because we don’t actually know, and can’t actually know, what it will be like. And yet it’s coming. When I’ve worked with families and individuals on their financial plans and investment management, I’m often hearing about their deep-seated wishes and dreams for their future. In fact, typically my clients hope that their money and all the hard work they are putting in right now will eventually give them the future they want.
I’ve written quite a bit here about a financial plan and the benefit of having one. But there are other aspects of your future to consider, beyond just the financial side of things. And I believe it might be just as important to talk about your family’s “non-financial plan” as it is to discuss the financials. Being mindful about your dreams and ideas for your future can help you become more aligned and focused as you work towards your goals.
Here’s an example. For many, our work is a defining feature of who we are. When asked to say something about yourself, one of the quickest responses is to talk about what you do for a living. For those with children, often a close second is talking about parenting/being a parent. But in the future, when we are retired and our children are grown, what will consume our time? How can we be mindful about spending our time once the demands of work and child-rearing are over?
Retirement is no longer what it used to be
Along those same lines, when many younger people think of “retirement”, they imagine a retirement community in Florida, where seniors drive around in golf carts playing shuffle board. But is this what we would actually want for ourselves? In real life, retirement may look a lot different than this. I’ve spoken to clients who want to travel, move to a geography with ready access to the outdoors, or engage in volunteer work.
Get mindful about planning your future
Having an idea of what that future might look like, and what your priorities are, can be an important aspect of having a non-financial plan. Start thinking mindfully about what you would like your future to look like, beyond just the financial side of things. And more important, start talking about these ideas with those who will be in that future with you. Then, write it down! This is a key step to defining your ideas.
Here are some benefits of having a written, non-financial plan, according to Robert Laura (link opens in new tab).
- Direction and achievement. When you’ve ended your work routine and career, a non-financial plan can give you direction and help you build new achievements. As humans we typically need a purpose, and a non-financial plan can offer that.
- Increased commitment. When you have a specific vision of your future, and when you and your spouse are in agreement on this vision, it’s much easier to keep committed to your plan, both now and in retirement. And besides the financial side of things, you may find ways of starting to build that future life now. For example, volunteering at a local charity of interest now, so that when you retire you’re moving into something that you already know about.
- Memory lapse. People tend to forget things as time goes on, and it’s helpful to have a written reminder of what you’re striving for.
- Process emotions. Retirement is not what it used to be. Thinking about retirement as having the financial independence to start a “second act”, can give you a head start as you think about the future.