I’m writing this blog in the final few days before I run the Virgin Money London Marathon which inspired me to consider running as a metaphor for our lives, particularly our working lives.
Have you ever run on a treadmill?
I try to avoid them these days but if you have you will know how boring they can be.
Running on the same spot, looking at a wall straight ahead of you; minutes drag like hours, going exactly nowhere.
Our careers can be like that.
We leave school, maybe go to university and then start a career or we go straight into our first jobs.
From there it is a case of looking straight ahead and running on the treadmill that we believe we should be on.
Pay off debt, buy a car, start some savings, maybe get married, buy a house, pay the mortgage, maybe have kids, save for school and maybe university, save for retirement.
Now, don’t get me wrong, these are all important and significant life events but how do we get onto our own unique treadmills?
Is your career one you dreamed of pursuing or is it a result of having taken the first job you were offered because you wanted to get something to start having money coming in?
Do you now feel like you have been on the same treadmill for hours (years) and are not any nearer your true goal?
Are you just looking forward and running on a road to nowhere with the expectation/hope that it will take you where you need to be?
That you will have managed to accrue enough savings so that you can one day press the stop button and get off?
What then? Will you finish fulfilled?
Will you start a new ambitious life, fresh and eager to explore other possibilities?
Whenever I speak to clients who are approaching or are at retirement I always ask them what life will look like for them.
Invariably the answer is vague and uninspired and usually revolves around continuing to do the things they have always done but now with more time.
Of course there is nothing wrong with this at all but I believe it is born from a fear of not having enough to do anything else and because they have never considered anything else:
“I spent my whole life on a treadmill staring straight ahead, I did not consider there were alternatives”.
Of course there are alternatives.
To continue the running metaphor, I enjoy trail running and the Surrey Hill gives plenty of opportunity to explore.
Rather than sticking to a pre-planned path sometimes it is nice to follow a new path to see where it takes you.
This gives you the opportunity to have a different view and experience things differently and having the confidence to know that it won’t kill you.
Yes, there may be some hurdles along the way but nothing that can’t be jumped or bypassed and you finish the run richer for the experience rather than thankful the treadmill has stopped.
Life should be like this.
Sometimes we should look up from the treadmill and consider why were are doing what we are doing.
If we take a different path how will we be rewarded?
What fulfillment and riches might we gain from different experiences.
If life’s hurdles come up, know that they can be overcome.
If your mind has become numbed and it is hard to see the trails in front of you perhaps you need to take time to consider what is important to you and what gives you energy.
The following may help:
• If I didn’t have to work I would……..?
• When I die I want my obituary to include the following…..
• If I was to travel back in time to my 16 year old self I would provide the following advice….
• What hurdles might I find on my new trail and how might I overcome them? (you can afford to be brave with this because, for now, it is only an exercise)
• If I was to set an example for my children I would want them to learn that……
• Who would I need on my coaching team to help me reach my new goal?
We don’t possess all the answers ourselves and the hardest part is usually knowing what the financial implications of our decisions will be.
This is particularly true if we have family who are financially dependent upon us.
It is often easier to sacrifice our own fulfillment for the well being of others but the two need not be mutually exclusive.
Indeed, everyone may be better off (financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually) as a result. However, it is unwise to take on a new challenge without a plan.
The first step is to understand what the future looks like and to see whether your new goals are achievable.
Here at Informed Choice we do this by helping you uncover what is most important to you and determining whether your current financial position can support you on your new route and, if it is not, what actions you can take to make is possible.
If you would like to know more please do get in touch and ask about our LifeWealth Design service.
(PS thanks should go to Sylvia Bentham of @1stcharteredFP who got me thinking of the metaphor in the first place!)