When we think about, the current credit crises, stock market meltdown and $700 billion Federal bail-out is mostly about keeping up with or exceeding what someone else has. Too many of us listened when unethical real estate brokers or mortgage lenders convinced us to buy that bigger house we really couldn’t afford. Bank A inflated near-term profits by relaxing loan standards or leveraging assets more than Bank B. Those financial hot shots in Investment Bank C just had to come up with a more fanciful packaging of over-valued sub-prime mortgages so that their year-end bonuses would exceed contemporaries in Investment Bank D.
A primary goal of middle age renewal is to sharpen focus upon realistic personal and family objectives. Forget about what someone else may have! Our ultimate target is to establish genuine mid-life financial and emotional balance. Our primary goal is not wealth accumulation per se but lifelong peace of mind which flows from from an adequate mating of lifestyle objectives with sustainable financial resources. Lottery winners’ only true prize is the ability to choose presisely how they wish to spend the remainder of their productive lives..
I know you probably did not win Power Ball or inherit $10 million from a rich uncle.. Like it or not, 95% of us in middle age cannot ignore the need to earn a living. (In view of the stock market swoon, more of us enter the “need-to-continue-working” club every day.) Will someone pay us to have fun in our jobs? Realistically, few can expect to enjoy every single working hour of every single day but there is no good reason why any truly renewed mid-lifer need remain in a stressful, non-fulfilling occupation.
If you are less than fully satisfied with your life and occupation today, begin by asking yourself how much income and/or personal financial resources you really need. How much will you require now and in the future to guard against uncertainty and maintain the lifestyle you and your significant others desire? Your objectives should never be based upon what someone else has. Personally, my personal desires do not require the income of certain Wall Street investment bankers who in December, 1999 complained that a $7 million end-of-year bonus was not adequate because contemporaries in a competing firm were receiving $10 million.(I’ll bet those Wall Street bankers won’t receive a $7 million year-end bonus this year!)
The goal for each one of us at mid-life is to establish an authentic lottery winner’s mentality without winning a dime. To accomplish this, each one of us needs to resolve three deeply personal issues:
- How do I truly wish to spend the remainder of my income-producing years?
- What intrinsic economic value will my targeted activity contribute to others? In effect, who will pay me to have fun? (Note: others might include employer, clients, customers, your multi-level downline or stock and bond markets should your goal be personal trading or investing.)
- How much wealth accumulation and anticipated annual cash flow will I need to accomplish and sustain my chosen lifestyle today and to save for the future?
Now it is time to crunch the numbers and to answer to yourself the $5 million question: “Is cash flow anticipated from my targeted vocation, my spouse’s targeted vocation plus present or anticipated future passive income sufficient to pay for life’s necessities, rainy day savings and those luxuries and pleasures we earnestly desire?” As a final step you may need to stretch or bend either or both target vocation or lifestyle objectives. If so, make the tough decisions now, up front. You will need to limit vocational options to those where you can pay the bills. Your other alternative is to scale back lifestyle to retire early or to pursue the alternative vocation of your dreams.
For some, one vital step remains. You may need to scope out and arrange personal “gap financing” to travel from present to future. Interim funding often proves to be the most difficult aspect of mid-life transition and will require the iron resolve of Lance Armstrong and the flexibility of Spider Man. Financing sources sometimes must come from personal sacrifice, including the sale of a primary or resort residence. In these cases, you will need the strong conviction that a better future awaits successful transition.
As you move forward to confront today’s financial challenges, always remember that a worthy ultimate objective is genuine enjoyment of all aspects of daily living, including but not solely defined by “work.” Your full value as a person is not limited to the position described on your business card. To bring out our best and enjoy our journies to the future, we need to first establish genuine financial and emotional balance. Once embedded in our consciousness, we will have established a lottery winner’s mentality. Though the world outside may moan and groan, no one can steal our confidence in our ability to infuence an ultimately favorable conclusion.