Keys to a successful life after work

I like to keep really busy. Too busy most of the time – I always feel like I’m running behind. But that’s how I’m most comfortable. For me, there’s a certain mental strain to not working. People regularly caution me that I’ll burn out, but I don’t feel that way. I love what I do. It’s what keeps me energized, not what wears me down. And so I pile on as much as I can.

The majority of the work I do is helping clients prepare for their financial independence. That day when you decide to work because you want to, not because you have to. And most Canadians, if they take good care of their savings, will find that financial independence is actually the single longest phase of their life. That can be a scary thing.

The Institute of Advanced Financial Planners (IAFP) held their annual symposium in Calgary this year. One of the speakers was Barry LaValley, and he gave a really good presentation on being mentally prepared for life after work and the challenge of not working.

He started out by describing 10% of the population as “self-directed”. Once they stop working, these folks quickly move on to other hobbies. Often maintaining much of the same routine as they did when they were paid for the work they do, they keep mentally and physically healthy by embracing independence as a new phase of life, a time for new challenges and new successes.

The rest of the population, however, actually finds the transition quite challenging. No longer driven by some immediate goal, some challenge to conquer or some fires to put out, permanent leisure starts to become a barrier. Entrepreneurs find this especially challenging. Used to having more demands on their time than time to give, 70% of entrepreneurs who stop working before age 65 actually return to work within 2 years. They just can’t take it anymore. A holiday is nice, but eventually you start to need a holiday from your holiday.

Besides just being a place to spend your time, there are many hidden values of work including financial stability, time management & structure, community, status, and career satisfaction. Removing work from your day can also remove these hidden values, and if they’re not quickly replaced by other positive influences, permanent leisure becomes mentally straining, and that can quickly lead to deteriorating physical health.

So what can you do about it? Here are the five things that Barry LaValley suggests are key to successfully having a life after work and happily leaving the workplace:

  1. First, maintain a positive outlook. Think of financial independence as a new phase in your life, a time to rediscover yourself, reconnect with your roots, and show appreciation for everything you are grateful for.
  2. Second, keep yourself involved with engaging activities. Whether it’s golf, deep sea fishing, painting, or wood working, figure out what you love to do and make it more than your hobby, make it your reality.
  3. The third key is relationships. Doing what you love is great, but sharing it with the people you love is everything. The quality relationships you keep with both existing friends and with new ones will keep you motivated, energized, and strong.
  4. A meaningful life the fourth key. Living a life of meaning refreshes your sense of purpose; it makes you significant. Most people feel their life has meaning when they are doing something that adds positive impact to the wellness others, whether it is social, spiritual environmental or physical.
  5. And the final key is a sense of achievement. A sense of achievement is a powerful motivator to keep you looking towards the future. Setting goals for yourself causes you to use effort to continue your growth, giving you cause to recognize and celebrate your unbounded time and independence

One of the things I enjoy most about the current stage of my career is feeling knowledgeable enough to do a really good job, but also being open enough to be easily able to incorporate new ideas. I love the IAFP conference because it feeds me these new ideas. Now more aware of how hard the transition from working to not working can be, I’m excited to implement some new practices into our firm, doing what I can do to make every client’s independence experience a positive one.

If you have questions on preparing for your financial independence, or for more information on how financial planning can help you transition out of the workplace, speak with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® today.

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