Learn to Stretch Your Mind into the Future
So much of reaching our true potential centers on how we think and our ability to cast our minds into the future. The objective is to envision our lives many years ahead before our reality is upon us.
This skill is true in our financial lives as well. In pre-retirement, we live in the accumulation phase of life. We may build a career, purchase a home, raise a family, send kids to college and along the way hopefully save enough for our Golden Years.
As we near retirement and reach the top of the mountain, we don’t realize that most of the economic rules in our lives are about to change. The risks, strategies and financial tools we encountered, deployed and used on the way up the mountain are different on the way down.
We may instinctively recognize that the details of our financial lives will change, but we may lack the skills to see our lives this way and know what to do. Visualizing a new landscape with different economic risks and threats is the first step to financial peace. Having vision is not only valuable as we make financial decisions and choices, but in all areas of our lives.
Consider this illustrative story.
In the 1300’s at Cambridge University in England, a chapel was constructed for one of the colleges. Huge beams fashioned from old-growth oak supported the vaulted roof of the chapel. Seven hundred years later, the beams had so deteriorated that the roof was in danger of collapsing. The building required extensive renovation, including replacing the beams. But where, in our time, could those repairing the building find giant oak trees of such an age and quality as had been available to the original builders?
The answer lay right outside the chapel doors. The original builders of the chapel had known that at some point far in the future, the structure would need new oak beams. To meet this need they planted acorns in the churchyard. Over the centuries, a grove of oak trees had grown to full maturity.
The chapel builders were rooted in a sense of personal mission and vision. Their mission and vision were built upon their values—a solid foundation that gave direction and meaning. The mission of the chapel builders was to ensure the survival of the chapel hundreds of years into the future. Their vision included planting acorns as a means of achieving their mission.
A vision is a picture of future success. A vision forms when we think far enough ahead to realize there will be important challenges we can prepare for now, perhaps by doing something as simple as planting a few acorns.
Proverbs 29:18 reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Having personal vision is a requirement for financial peace. As we project our minds into the future, we are better able to prepare for the challenges and obstacles that might confront us. With difficult winds swirling around us, a clear vision allows us to chart a better course.
Many struggle with the ability to exercise personal vision. Learning how to see the end from the beginning is a quality that each of us can develop. This ability comes in part by slowing down our pace, pondering our present reality and then projecting ourselves into the future.
As pre-retirees, we need to visualize the road ahead, clearly 10, 15 and 20+ years down the road. We can ask ourselves some important questions.
- What are our hopes and our dreams?
- What experiences do we want to have?
- What do we want to be remembered for?
- What impact would we like to have on those around us?
- What contributions do we want to make?
No matter our age, we must believe that our future is bigger than our past! This optimistic perspective can help us become true goal cultivators, which can translate into happier tomorrows.
Having a clear vision of one’s financial future is essential for economic survival, especially given the myriad of changes thrust upon us when we crest that proverbial retirement mountain.
Again, slow down and project yourself forward asking important questions about your financial life.
- What are your living circumstances?
- Are you living in the same home or do you plan to downsize?
- What are the financial threats you might encounter?
- What if you have a prolonged illness?
- Who will care for you?
- How will you pay for it?
- Do you have enough income to live the lifestyle of your choice?
- What is this income based on?
- Do you have a guaranteed flow of income that cannot be outlived?
- Do you fear running out?
- What happens to your income if a spouse passes?
- How will you replace it?
- What if the market experiences another major downturn?
- Do you have time to recover?
- What if inflation or taxes go up?
- How do your assets transfer at passing?
- What is important to you about your own personal legacy?
- If you lost your cognitive ability who will make your financial or healthcare decisions?
As you consider the answers to these questions you may feel challenged to ponder a host of topics that you may not have considered. This engagement confronts your present reality for answers. The by-product of stretching your mind into the future, if you take action, can positively shape your tomorrows.
Helping pre and post-retirees sharpen their personal vision is our passion. As you develop a better vision for the future and then take action, you will be on the road to financial peace.