Recently, on an executive business course, I met a quietly spoken gentlemen with no sense of fashion at all.
He was single, retired and, as it turned out, destined to be my roommate for the duration of the course.
It wasn’t until later that I learnt that this silent and socially awkward man was not only very wealthy, but very smart.
He also had one of the most defined ideas of preferred lifestyle that I had come across in my time working with people transitioning from full-time work into the next stage of their lives.
Over a few drinks, he shared with me that he loved maths and preferred nature on all levels to the company of human beings. As a result, when he left his final role, he bought a plot of land in the middle of nowhere. It was close enough to town to get what he needed when he needed it but far enough away to enjoy the silence of nature.
Three times a week, he would be up at 2am to trade the US stock market. His eyes lit up as he told me that he liked nothing better than sitting with a warm coffee on his wrap-around balcony, frantically trading numbers at the speed of light, yet aware of the relative stillness of nature around him, all under a crystal-clear, star-studded sky.
When I asked him why he was on the course, he acknowledged that he believed in lifelong learning. He actually took at least three short courses a year in different life areas to keep him connected with people and to keep his mind stimulated.
My roommate knew the lifestyle he wanted and had acted to make it a reality. He lived a life that matched with what he found important and true to his values, and embraced a life that he was content with. A smart man indeed.
So, what lifestyle do you want?
There’s an old saying: If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know when you get there?
People transitioning out of the full-time workforce need to have a clear idea of:
- Who they are;
- What is important to them;
- What they prefer to do (and not do);
- What knowledge and skills they have (or would like to have); and
- How all of these aspects interconnect to provide opportunities for further work, self-development, activities, hobbies, social interaction and being part of communities in the next stage of their lives.
There are so many things to consider when it comes to lifestyle, whether you choose to focus on more recreational or professional pursuits. It’s about what you will occupy yourself with in the stage of your life – a massive source of wealth.
Continuing self-development may include online or campus-based courses or seminars, writing, blogging, researching, and using and keeping up with technology.
Sport and active recreation may include walking, hiking, jogging, going to the gym, swimming, golf, tennis, bowls, as well as other sports and indoor and outdoor games.
Amusements and cultural interests can encompass a wide range of activities, like movies, theatre, TV, radio, music, playing an instrument, travel, vacations, museums, art shows, card games and board games.
Service activities include volunteer work and being active in service clubs and civic groups.
Social activities include phone calls, social networking through sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, in-home entertaining with small or large groups, family get-togethers and calling on friends.
Interests and hobbies could mean any variation of arts and crafts, collecting, DIY home improvement, gardening or scrapbooking, etc. The key to determining your lifestyle is to work out what you want to do and then design your days, weeks, months and years ahead to incorporate all the aspects that make up a satisfying lifestyle according to you.
Then, where necessary, you can negotiate and collaborate in order to create your desired lifestyle.
Some people want the beach lifestyle, some want the tree change, others want warm weather or the decadent lifestyle, luxury lifestyle, tranquil lifestyle, adventurous lifestyle, the mixed change and variety lifestyle… the list goes on.
There is no right or wrong way to create a lifestyle that you wish to enjoy. For many, it is something that evolves over time. The point here is to unpack your head and get your ideas down on paper.
When asked, people who are in the last few months of their lives and know the end is near rarely make reference to the material ownership of “things”.
What they do reflect on is experiences, memories and people. This is your chance to do it consciously. What experiences do you want in the next stage of your life?
Steve Mendl is author of Beyond the Money: A Practical Guide for Successful Men Leaving Full-time Work. Visit beyondthemoney.com.au