Personal Finance column: Retirement — five elements of financially flourishing
You have crossed over the proverbial finish line of retirement, and you are doing it in the Roaring Fork Valley. You set your financial goals, and your advisor says you have the resources to sustain your income needs. You are unpacking the new attire of retirement, but something is ruffled. The days fly by, you feel busy, yet you are restless, maybe even a bit depressed at times. You are functioning as planned, but not flourishing in your potential.
To expand from functioning to flourishing, you need to step out of your comfort zone and re-script the narrative of retirement past. It will change the way you employ your time, money and skills.
The work of Martin Seligman, Ph.D. in the area of positive psychology and well-being theory disrupts the status quo around retirement mindsets. His work has profound impacts on the financial decisions you make in order to support and sustain well-being in your life as you age.
Well-being theory incorporates five key elements: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. When your financial decisions align with these areas, you will experience deeper fulfillment in life.
The quest of traditional retirement primarily had you focus on goals and time utilization that elicit positive emotions (nothing wrong, just lacking in a vacuum). What will bring you pleasure, happiness, comfort and joy now and down the road? This is the easiest bucket of well-being to fill, as our brains are wired to seek pleasure and the most touted by the media. Over time this bucket becomes diluted and fails to quench.
Thinking that more money will lead to a flourishing life is an illusion. Optimizing how you use the financial and character wherewithal you have accumulated over time wisely and utilizing the clocks waning years will. When you have reached a place of financial functioning, you have the opportunity to fully flourish.
Like a glorious sunset, rich hues of color melded together, you will find that these five components of well-being many times overlay and enrich each other as you live your version of true prosperity. Based on the constructs of your unique financial and life situation, here are some examples in using your dollars to flourish:
Relationships: Use your money to build on or grow with the people you care about. Attend a workshop or retreat to learn new relational or communication skills. Create or facilitate experiences with the people you enjoy being with. Giving gifts may be an appropriate way to flourish in your relationships. We have a growing epidemic of isolation among people of means. Don’t let monetary angst get in the way of important relationships. Who can you reach out to today?
Meaning: You have an opportunity to be part of something larger than yourself. Create a giving plan that allows you to share your financial resources with humanitarian, religious, cultural, environmental, political or other special interest organizations. Utilize creative giving strategies such as the Donor Advised Funds, Charitable Remainder/Lead Trusts or beneficiary designations to maximize your opportunities. Look at how you are “spending” your time. What will it take to balance your vocations with vacations?
Positive emotions: Use your money to fulfill your “soul needs.” Turn off the noise that sucks you in to the “ego desires” vortex. What makes you giggle, brings you peace, fills you with deep satisfaction? It is subjective for everyone and reflects your evaluation of past, present and future. If you spend your money on things that elicit positive emotions, and embrace gratitude for what you have, you will end up needing less and feeling better about life.
Engagement: What activity so captivates you, that you lose track of time and sense of self? Utilize your money to facilitate immersion into those hobbies or activities. Don’t look at what others or what the media says you “should” be doing. How can you stay engaged in life in a way that ignites that spark in your heart? Can you share that spark with others?
Accomplishments: Use your financial resources and aspire to “mastery.” Don’t stop learning. What educational endeavors, professional development, sports pursuits or hobbies do you want to become the best at? Take a class, a course or create a curriculum to teach others.
Opening up the door to flourishing in retirement means becoming vulnerable, taking risks and embracing failure as step on the journey. It involves conversations as couples, space for individuality and freedom within boundaries. It will involve making financial choices — sometimes difficult ones, maybe scary ones. Make sure you have the right professional guidance to optimize your financial tools as you unpack life potential. The place to start is: Am I good with simply functioning or do I want to truly flourish?
Danielle Howard is a CFP® and CKA® with Wealth By Design LLC in Basalt. Check out her retirement podcasts and blogs at daniellehoward4u.com.
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