“Life is short”. “You only live once”. “Make the most of life while you can”. “Life’s not a rehearsal”. As well-worn as these clichés are, the sentiment is spot-on.
After all, we’re not here for very long. Today’s UK life expectancy for men in their fifties is about 84, and 87 for women, with around a one-in-ten chance of making it to 99. That’s a pretty small slice of the Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history.
And in these unusual times, we know all too well that life can turn on a sixpence, whether it’s to do with health, employment, family situations, relationships, wealth… or a global pandemic. Even with the best-laid plans, your world can be turned upside down by influences beyond your control.
That’s why the clichés are absolutely right. The best time to live your best life is now.
What’s important to you?
Let’s stick with the theatrical theme for a while. According to a certain Mr Shakespeare, life unfolds in seven acts. While his language may have been more flowery, the gist is that what you want and need when you’re 25 won’t be the same as when you’re 55, which will again change by the time you reach 75.
At any age, it’s easy to get stuck on a hamster wheel of routine, letting your everyday tasks and responsibilities carry you through the weeks, months and years without much thought. Before you know it, you could be drifting through life, without purpose and not focusing on what you actually want.
Take a moment to stop and think about where you are right now in life and what matters to you, then compare it with where you’d like to be. What kind of a gap have you got?
With no guaranteed extended runs, making the most of life means actively pursuing the things you enjoy and spending time with the people that matter. What you don’t want is to look back on your life with regret. If “all the world’s a stage”, you need to make sure yours has the right scenery, cast and script for your preferred play, today and in the future. But it’s not always straightforward to work this all out by yourself.
Defining your purpose
You may not think of financial planning as a process that can help map out your values and purpose in life, but that’s a big part of what we do at Fortitude.
For us, financial planning is about understanding what’s important to you and the life you want to live – before we go anywhere near questions about what you have. Your money is there to support your chosen lifestyle, bringing you a level of freedom to live the life you want, when you want it, in line with your values.
When we get to know you, we look at the life stage you’re currently in and where you’re headed, so we can gauge when you might reach the point of financial independence – when you don’t need to earn any more money to live the life you want to. You could call this “retirement”, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop working, and it certainly doesn’t mean giving up on pursuing your dreams. It’s actually the opposite.
As time goes on, there’ll come a later life stage where you may be less fit and able to do what you want. We’re here to help make sure you don’t have regrets about what you didn’t get to do, the memories you could have made, or the person you didn’t get to be.
Through regular reviews, we check everything’s still in place, assess what’s changed, and if necessary, adjust the plan to make sure you’re still on track to live your best life as things evolve.
A real-life transformation
Before becoming Fortitude clients, Keith and Trish didn’t think they’d be able to stop working anytime soon. In their mid-fifties and working for the same company for almost forty years, they were holding on to dreams about being able to travel more in retirement. They came to speak to us about their options, keen to know how long they had to carry on ‘living life on autopilot’. When we were able to show them that they didn’t need to work any longer, they gained the freedom to retire straight away and start enjoying life on their own terms with no financial worries.
Making it count
This isn’t a treatise on selling everything you own and buying a Ferrari or a one-way ticket to Hawaii. It’s about taking the time to review what it is you really want out of life – and then striving to achieve it without compromising your long-term financial security and wellbeing.
If you can ultimately look back and give yourself a standing ovation, you’ll know you’ve had a life well-lived. Contact us to see how Fortitude can help you put a plan in place to help you make the most of the opportunities in life.
We’ll leave the last words to our now-happily-retired client, Trish: “Don’t put it off.”