April 7, 2024

How To Face Your Future: A Guide to Creating Joy

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Planning for Your Next Big Thing

In the midst of wrestling sacks of paving sand and pea gravel into the back of my small SUV, I couldn’t shake the words that echoed in my mind: “No one is going to come to save you…” The recent heavy rain had left the sacks heavier than imaginable, messy, and oozing muddy liquid, leaving me ‘covered head to toe’ in the aftermath.

As people walked by, their glances flickered over the task at hand, quickly averting their eyes, unwilling to offer words of support or encouragement. Even the hired staff at the big box store, who were expected to be helpful, turned away. It became clear that “no one else is going to do this…”

How does this relate to you? You might not be moving sacks of sand, but if you’re like many people I work with, you’re realizing that “no one is going to do this for you…” According to the Survey of Consumer Finances, 50% of American households have no savings for retirement. While older adults tend to have more savings for retirement, savings alone do not constitute a plan.

Harvard’s Study of Adult Development shows that the more relationships and social connections we have, the more likely we are to find satisfaction in life. Connecting with others, finding purpose, and making a difference in the world contribute to our overall well-being, joy and happiness.

Combining financial stability and social connections leaves us in a situation similar to the one I found myself in that parking lot; no one is going to do this for you. Most of us won’t win the lottery, and lifelong friends and relationships won’t be assigned to us. Whatever we want in our lives must be put there by our own efforts. In other words, we have to be purposeful in our actions.

Here are a few key steps to prepare for what’s next:

– Choose to engage in relationships; don’t wait for them to happen or hope the other person will reach out for a coffee break.

– Set up your financial savings and investments with the help of a skilled financial advisor; don’t rely on what you think might work. Put your monthly contributions on autopay to ensure they are used for retirement.

– Take care of your body. Social connections can help guard against medical conditions, so use them to your advantage.

– Marriages and committed relationships have their ups and downs but in the long run, they do help us buffer the stress of everyday living.

Feeling overwhelmed after reading this list is natural, but it doesn’t have to linger. Just as you plan a house or a garden, strategize for moving beyond overwhelm and into what works for you. When considering your next chapter — retirement, a new career path, getting unstuck — start by imagining what you see for yourself.

Do you want to be close to your family? Do you prefer an environment with more cultural choices or a smaller community? If considering a new career path, ask yourself what you’ve daydreamed about or found the most enjoyment from. Giving yourself permission to visualize what you seek is an invaluable gift.

The steps you take after this are based on what you can picture for yourself. Perhaps you’ll take road trips to explore new places or start conversations with others about their experiences. Regardless of what others have done, in the long run, no one is going to come along and do this for you.

While no one can do it for us or save us from the stress of planning how to move forward, there is a certain level of satisfaction in seeing your plans come to life. While it’s nice to have someone else do the pieces every now and then, there’s no better feeling than knowing, “I did that…yes, I did…” Some may well consider it joyous; I know I do.

Looking for help in finding your own next chapter ~ whether that’s retirement strategies, career shifts or getting unstuck ~ I’m here to guide you through the process. Reach out and let’s get started today – what do you have to lose?

photo credit: mitch fox

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