Last week I gave a lecture to a group of people who, although 'middle aged' seemed to have not given much thought to what their retirement might look like. I think, we all have a vision of a perfect existence when we no longer need or want to work. We all would like to 'write our future' and know that we will live healthy and active, able to travel with no financial or health concerns until one day we close our eyes and simply don't wake up. The hope is that the 'one day' that happens will be very far in the distant future when like a machine, our body simply stops working. I once had a professor who asked us to write our own obituaries - that was the scenario most of us imagined but we were quickly told, it was a rare occurrence.
After discussing some real life scenarios, and the realities around cost factors and possible care needs, I think many in the group were busy assessing their own life situation. In doing these sorts of lectures, I always try to balance reality with practicality while not creating hysteria. No one knows what their future holds however, to bury our heads in the sand and not think about what may be, only serves to potentially delay conversations and as a result, reduce options available to us if we do need care or alternate accommodation in the future.
We all know people who died young and were not able to enjoy retirement; and others who lived to a ripe old age and were grateful for savings and investments. How do you know which you will be? Do we 'throw caution to the wind' and live our lives to the fullest not worrying about retirement or do we scrimp and save when we are working to ensure that we have enough money to live comfortably for 30 more years? There are no crystal balls. And so, I advocate a bit of both. I think its important to enjoy life while you are healthy. Travel, enjoy time with family and friends, work at something that gives you happiness and save a bit every month which over time, will add up to a nice nest egg that hopefully you will use in your lifetime. That, I think, is the balance to aim for. Even when the days seem to last forever, the years simply slip by. Balance is the key to no regrets,,,,,,, and a nice retirement.