I recently returned to London after a 6-week family trip to New York and then Costa Rica.
We don’t usually go away for such a long period of time, but after coming back feeling refreshed and energised, we’ve vowed to take a trip of this length every two years going forward.
It’s all part of our plan to build a life we don’t want to retire from.
I often speak to people who put their dreams and aspirations on hold in the hope of achieving happiness when they retire.
In fact, when I started my career as a financial adviser back in 2003, my job mostly involved working with clients who simply wanted to know which financial product would allow them to eventually rest.
A rest from the toil of working life. There was this overwhelming sense that, if I do all this work now, I can one day rest and be free from the shackles of labour.
The problem is, the future isn’t guaranteed. For some people, all those years of graft turn out to be for nothing. We all know those stories of people who worked hard to rest from something, only for life to be cut short.
On the flip side, if your work has a purpose and you have fun as you go, there’s never a finishing line. You complete nothing because there will always be someone out there with a problem that you can solve with the knowledge, skills and passions you’ve gained throughout your busy yet fulfilling life.
So how can you build a life you don’t want to retire from? Here are a few things to think about.
Fulfilling side income
If you’ve been doing the same job for a number of years and you still love it, there’s a chance you’ve already found the thing you won’t want to retire from.
But it’s a good idea to have a back up plan just in case. You never know. Your beloved boss might retire only to be replaced by their obnoxious son who doesn’t know what he’s doing. Or there could be a huge restructuring process that completely changes the dynamic.
So whether you love your job or not, it’s a good idea to have something else on the go that brings in money and gives you purpose.
This could involve:
You don’t have to earn enough from your side income to replace your full-time work. The idea is more to find something else that you enjoy and can monetise in the hope of giving yourself more options in future.
Regular holidays and trips
Earlier this year we talked about setting your terms at work by taking regular sabbaticals. If your boss won’t allow you to take a few months off at once, be tactical with your weekends, Bank Holidays and paid time off.
Finances permitting, you could go to Italy in the spring, Spain in the summer, Germany in the autumn and the US in the winter for just 4-5 days at a time.
You could hang a large map on the wall and add stickers to it every time you visit somewhere new. You could challenge yourself to visit a new country each year or tick something terrifying off your bucket list, whether it’s skydiving, abseiling, or riding the biggest rollercoaster in each country you visit.
Enjoyment every day
Building a life you don’t want to retire from isn’t just about big trips and adrenaline-boosting adventures. You can do it on a smaller scale too.
If you feel as though you spend more of your time working, running errands, or managing the household, make sure you have time set aside each day just for you.
Don’t wait until retirement to go for a daily walk, read a new book every week or take up dance classes. Make space for those small pockets of enjoyment now.
Although I’m passionate about building a life that makes it easy to get out of bed in the morning, I keep investing 20% of my income because there’s always a chance my body may force me to retire earlier than I’d like.
Even the healthiest among us could experience restrictive or debilitating conditions later in life.
You might like the idea of climbing Mount Everest at the age of 70, but there’s no guarantee your back or knees will let you.
One day, a rest might be forced upon you. If that happens, you’ll need to have exchanged your economic worth for capital.
It’s all about finding balance, really.
You might make a promise to yourself to keep investing in the stock market for your future self, while also investing in your present day self by going on long walks in the woods, spending quality time with your family, and actually going ahead and booking that holiday.
If you’re someone who is working solely to be able to stop one day, I hope this post will inspire you to take action to break the cycle.
Many people have no choice but to work until they drop because they don’t earn enough or have started saving too late. But if you’re somewhat financially comfortable, reevaluate what you actually want from life, and stop working towards arbitrary figures.
I’ve had some clients who never made it to retirement. It must be heartbreaking for those they left behind to feel as if they’ve missed out on lazy afternoons, holidays and other adventures because everything was on-hold until retirement.
Build a life you don’t want to retire from and when your number is finally up (hopefully a long time from now), you’ll be less likely to feel cheated.