As a summer to remember passes and as the leaves soon begin to change shade, once again we are reminded that life has seasons. As we approach autumn, though, it doesn’t always mean we have another summer ahead of us.
Harland David Sanders was born on 9th September 1890 and died at the age of 90 years old on 16th December 1980. I want to tell you a story about this gentleman, but before I do, let me tell you why.
One of life’s biggest seasons – and one that we think is a million miles away when we are younger – is the ‘summer’ of retiring comfortably. And if that thought is distant, then remaining comfortably retired is an even more remote notion.
Why is that? I think it’s because few know how to “connect the dots” between present choices and future circumstances.
Some people work towards retirement as a goal and then, once achieved, wonder what to do next. Others not only focus and set a time, they also have a sense of all the kinds of things they’d like to do in this season of their lives.
In a way, the 48-year-old is not the only person sitting in the room with me: it’s also her future 60-year old self with a three-decade retirement ahead of her. I am an advocate for them both.
It seems more fruitful to enter this season of life having known what you wanted from it beforehand. Since 8th March 1991, I must have had thousands of client interviews and one thing that stands out is that during the vicissitudes of life, people often miss the opportunity to make plans.
Where do you start? Three of the most important retirement questions we can ask ourselves are:
- Have I had enough?
- Do I have enough?
- Do I have enough to do?
In answer to, “Do I have enough?” I’ve been able to say to the dear people in front of me, “Yes, you do. You can stop today”. In several of those cases, even though it was something planned in terms of a date and an amount, making that choice today produced anxiety in how to fill the time tomorrow.
You probably know the answer to question 1, but it might be influenced by a hazy idea on questions 2 and 3?
Obviously, your GL Passport will help you discover the answers to those questions and why you should make changes, how to start and what to do.
In a retirement conversation, some people have wondered whether what they are doing today is what they want to be remembered for tomorrow.
And that brings me back to Colonel Harland Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). By 1940, he had finalised his famous “Secret Recipe” for frying chicken in a pressure cooker; in 1952 franchised it for the first time and in 1962 obtained a patent for it. In 1964 at the age of 73, he sold the business for $2m ($16m in today’s terms). His achievements came after much persistence.
His legacy would be 6,000 KFC outlets in 48 countries with $2 billion in sales by the time he died in 1980 together with his charitable organisation which his persistence and success funded – including a sizable donation to Mississauga Hospital that cares for women and children.
I have a feeling that despite the energy he directed into his business, he would rather be remembered for his charitable legacy than what he felt happened to his chicken recipe: he would later complain that his product had been turned into “sludge” and “wallpaper paste” and a “fried doughball stuck on some chicken”.
On TV last night, a 93-year old former doctor, OBE and leading thought leader at Guys Hospital reflected on his life and said that his mistake was prioritising work over having a family. In his 20’s, 30’s and 40’s he just couldn’t see it. It wasn’t important. Now it is and it’s too late.
For want of having enough to do, we cling to busyness like barnacles on a boat, often not realising we’re doing it. Addressing the seasons in your life can reveal that you still have things to do and unfinished business. Perhaps you realise that while everything you have done has been for your family, you have not spent much time with your family. Is now the time?
I think for a lot of us we avoid the conversation because it’s an admission that life isn’t forever; but what if in taking a brave step, you see it as a new lease on life?
It’s not too late to start planning and, like Colonel Sanders, a change in circumstance (sold a business) can trigger something new.
Why not begin addressing your legacy today and ensure that your retirement is something purposeful that benefits you and those who follow you?
I suppose my challenge to you this autumn is this: don’t let the leaves fall to the ground without planning what the summer of your life should look like.
‘Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.’ – Albert Camus.
Certified Financial Planner™ professional
Chartered Wealth Manager™
Investors should remember that the value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up. This update has been produced for information purposes only and isn’t intended to constitute financial advice; investments referred to may not be suitable for everyone.